Call it sick, but the lengths I went to to get my hands on a pair of Bottega Veneta’s Square Toe Stretch Sandals was, quite frankly, alarming. It all began some time ago, when the sartorial carrot of Daniel Lee’s debut collection was dangled before my very eyes on Instagram (of course). In somewhat of a commercial slump, the House suddenly rose from the ashes of intrecciato and Italian leather to bear the stylistic fruits of a whole new, gloriously chic aesthetic at the helm of its new ingenious Creative Director. A former-Philo alum, Lee presented a collection which quickly plugged the veritable hole of “old Céline”, a highly-editorialised, directional debut where devoted Philo-philes – who had been left high and fashionably dry after the Céline upheaval – sought refuge. “New Bottega” was the saviour of their modern, minimalist aesthetic, and just like that, Bottega Veneta was everywhere. But amid the celebrated duvet skirts and puff-like pouches, was the strappy square-toe sandal. Nothing has gripped the fashion crowd quite like them, and I – like the rest of the world – had to have them. But how was I to secure a pair of the most highly coveted shoes in recent fashion history? My mind was restless. But first, I needed to reconcile a personal existential crisis: did I actually even want the shoes?
Much has been spoken of Instagram eradicating personal style with its subtle, subliminal yet manipulative messaging. It’s true, most of my personal fashion revelations have come via the app, the Explore page serving me bags I didn’t even know I wanted but then couldn’t live without, stylistic couplings I would have never dreamt of but decided was my new look, and so forth. So before committing to the shoe, I asked myself; did I really want the shoes? Or did I want them because everyone else on Instagram has them and I feel so anxiously out of the loop? (The concept of FOMO something which has plagued my state of self since before the term was even coined). And if I get them, will they be so ‘done’ that I will look upon them with scorn and contempt and loathing, lamenting the very day I added them to my cart? My existential crisis was resolved by one more question: will I regret not getting them?
The short answer. Yes. Of course. I wanted them. I needed them. I couldn’t live without them. I didn’t care if every remotely stylish girl of Instagram had them, if I didn’t get them I would be forever haunted by their purposefully exaggerated square toe, their sinuous strapping, their delicately sculptural heel, their flossy, on-trend thong-like toe – oh my, they were perfect! Quickly, my pursuit for the blue Bottega’s became obsessive, reckless and quite frankly, absurd.
First there was the matter of colour. There was the black. The white. The red. The chocolate. But then there was blue. This brilliant shade of cerulean blue that all of sudden I felt impelled to drench myself in. How had I survived a day without this hue in my life? I’d see a blue bus whiz past, I’d remember them. I’d go for a beach walk, there they were. I’d look up and the sky and and think, oh God, not you too. It’s as if the fashion gods were playing tricks, sending me not-so gentle reminders from above. But with a shoe in such insanely high demand, comes an equally insane means of acquisition. So I embarked on this journey the only way I knew how; with insanity and a not-so level head.
Soon enough, the shoe was uploaded to the ‘Coming Soon’ page of Matches Fashion, a kind of sartorial tease of what’s to come for the season ahead. Now, I love and trust and have shared many good times – great times – with Matches Fashion, but on this occasion, in the context of Bottega Fall 19, I was worried. I was worried that the computer would forget to update me, or that the update would arrive in my inbox in the middle of the night, or that someone with far superior reflexes to mine would trump my click-speed style. To make sure I had my bases covered, I indulged what I call a little online shopping insurance. Adding myself to the ‘Wishlist’ notification system, I didn’t just enter my size and my email address. No. I entered the three email address I own (personal / serious, personal / shopping and work). I even created a new one, you know, just in case.
But the madness didn’t stop there. When shopping for shoes, I am, for the most part, a size 40. But for me, it’s not so much a case of if the shoe fits, but rather how much I want the shoe / how heavily discounted the shoe is, rendering size utterly redundant. 39? I can squeeze my unusually large hooves into such (particularly of the open toe / sandal ilk). Then there’s a 41, my go-to buying strategy when sale time hits. I have accumulated some fabulous hits in a size 41 over the years, which include but are not limited to; The Row’s Satin Bow Flat and Cone Heel, Gucci’s Dionysus Pump in shiny emerald green and Balenciaga’s Knife Point Pump in a retina-searing bubblegum pink. Remember there’s nothing a little Party Feet and perseverance can’t fix. But I knew I’d hit rock bottom when I ordered a size 38.5 in Attico’s wildly extravagant yet necessary feathered Whip Pumps. I convinced myself of the ease of which I could “stretch” a sling back, of which, proudly, I did (despite losing a few feathers along the way).
So, just to be sure – quadruple sure – I added all four email addresses into four different sizes which spanned the 40 ballpark; 39.5, 40, 40.5, 41. Alarmingly, the lunacy continued. I then proceeded to ask / coerce GRAZIA’s Fashion Stylist to also add his email address to not one, but all four sizes, of which he obliged, begrudgingly. Safety, at last!
Not quite. I still had this strange, lingering feeling, my sense of relief fleeting. Even my lovely, encouraging friend was haplessly pessimistic. “You’re not going to get them, mate. Deal with it.” But with unerring optimism and a psychotic sparkle in my eye I was determined. Every day, at all hours, I would do my daily check on the status of the shoe. For months, I was met with the same alert. Coming Soon. I’d refresh the page one more time to be certain: Coming Soon. It was about a month and half ago when I felt a pang in my gut. Today is the day! I could feel it. I could feel the arrival of the shoe was imminent.
Like a sartorial sixth sense, I jolted upright from my afternoon slump, went straight to the product page and clicked the size drop down box. Size 39.5: Sold Out. Size 40: Sold Out. 40.5: Sold Out. Size 41: Sold Out. WHAT?! Sold…Out? Stunned, I refreshed the page again and again like a mad(wo)man. Sweating, I quickly logged into all four email accounts to check of any missed notifications. Nothing. I reverted back to the product and tried my luck again. NOTHING. I was incredulous, incensed, outraged. How could it be? How could they do this to me? How had I missed out on the shoe? In a rash, rather impetuous moment of sheer hysteria, I emailed the Matches PR (who thankfully also happens to be a friend). The contents of my email cannot be disclosed but let’s just say it was crass and hostile and all in bold caps (*with a few asterisk-marked profanities).
But then, some kind of miracle. In the very moment I clicked send on the hyper-aggressive, slightly crazed email, I received an email from MatchesFashion.com which read as follows: Your Wishlist Piece Is Low In Stock. To be clear, I have about 700 things in my Wishlist, my total dream order once clocked a cool $33,450, so when that email arrives it’s like the lottery ticket of designer fashion, it could quite literally be anything. I clicked it, and there they were; the wondrous blue Bottega Veneta Stretch Sandal in a size 40.5 (not my first choice, but heck, I’ll take it). A frisson of excitement, my heart pulsating; could the most desired shoe finally be mine?
I clicked through to discover that yes, the 40.5 was ‘Low in Stock’. Frenzied, I clicked and clicked, my Olympic-level pace eventually granting me the ultimate gift: an order confirmation. The joy, the elation, the exhaustion. It was over. I had won. Blood, sweat and five email addresses later – I had conquered the impossible Bottega Veneta Sandal.
But this season, there is a whole new challenge. Enter the Pre-Spring 2020 update, the BV Lido Sandal, which is already in the throes of sending the myopic fashion crowd to the brink of insanity. In a lateral side step from Fall’s lofty quilting, Spring sees Daniel Lee call upon the classic trope of the house, its famed intrecciato weave, reimagining it with his now-signature square-toe in a perfect shade of blue and mule shape. Continuing its reign as the shoe brand of the season, Bottega Veneta undoubtedly remains the untouchable. Sacrosanct and all kinds of holy, Lee’s footwear is a rare, precious commodity in fashion land to be revered for the long-haul. Now sign up to one – or three – new email addresses and add yourself to the waitlist. We’re a crazed lot, we fashion folk. Best get cracking.