May 23 2010
Among fashion’s Holy Grails (perfect black dress; perfect white shirt; perfect dark-blue skinny jeans), the perfect ballet flat has its own pride of place – or rather, the endlessness and complexity of the quest for it is particularly storied, a series of mythical narratives women can unspool to each other for hours. (This one was so close! But the bow pushed it over by a hair into the “too girly” zone… That other so almost perfect! If only the toe were the tiniest bit rounder…)
Here’s the denouement: the Sue London slipper. Sue London is, despite her name, a New York-based designer of shoes and bags who has focused a very formidable talent on a very small number of products, refining them until they are perfect prototypes. Take her slipper: pancake-flat sole, simple shape with a flawlessly round toe that shows an ideal hint of “toe cleavage”, with a gently elasticised structure that shapes around the foot, and made in butter-soft napa leather in a half-dozen new colours every season.
And – genius of all genius ideas – they fold in half and fit snugly into a fetching drawstring bag, cut from matching leather. It’s like getting a present. (I’ve been known to use the one that accompanied a metallic champagne pair as an evening bag; it’s garnered more than one compliment.) They’re gorgeous by any standards, particularly so on the run through Heathrow or Gatwick when they need to be slipped off and on in a hurry – and, at $168 a pair, a justifiable multiple purchase. A happy ending, at last.