Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Espadrilles: Stylish Casual and Oh-So French

Espadrilles, those wonderful casual warm weather shoes, were originally made of rope and canvas in the Pyrenees of France and Spain. The French name espadrille is derived from the Catalan word, espardenya, which refers to a tough grass used for weaving the ropes that form the bottom of the shoes. Today, most espadrilles have longer lasting rubber soles, with the rope primarily as a decorative feature and a nod to its history. Although other styles are made with wedge heels or ties around the ankles or open toes, Quel Objet stays with the traditional flat sole and closed canvas uppers.

In the past the upper canvas might have been a single solid color or perhaps a sober stripe. Today’s espadrilles feature bold stripes in brilliant, happy colors—especially those from Artiga and Les Toiles du Soleil, two of Quel Objet’s main suppliers from the Southwest of France. (Les Toiles du Soleil is high up in the mountains of the eastern Pyrenees, near the Spanish border, while Artiga is in the foothills at the western end of the Pyrenees.) It is these vivid colors in the sophisticated stripes that distinguish these espadrilles from all others.

Espadrilles-Sizzle Stripes

Espadrilles first became popular in the U.S. in the 1940’s when Lauren Bacall wore them in Key Largo. Since then they’ve have gone in and out of fashion, but have resurged in popularity, especially since the introduction of the brightly striped styles.

Your biggest surprise will occur when you first take them out of the box. Which is right and which is left? No matter; they are the same. After a few hours of wearing, they will mold to the shape of your feet. And so comfortable, almost like going barefoot, these simple shoes look great at all but the dressiest occasions.

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