Around June a few fashion publications wondered if fashion was soon going to be in the grips of a retro roller skates nostalgia. Sneakers mounted on four wheels reappeared indeed in trendy and conceptual boutiques and on e-commerce sites: French Veja launched for example a sneaker in collaboration with Flaneurz, a snap-on roller skate label.
Hints about the mania had already spread in March when French fashion house Saint Laurent released images of models on what looked like stilettos or high heel boots mounted on perilous roller skates.
At the time France's advertising watchdog asked the fashion house to modify two of the ads after receiving complaints that they were degrading to women and sexist. But, in the last few days, the Internet has left behind the sexist remarks to debate about the safety of Anthony Vaccarello's roller skate heels for Saint Laurent.
Available in four styles the roller skates incorporate pumps decorated with snakeskin inserts and with details in bold and bright colours. Rather than skates, they look like shoes mounted on wheels with a toe stopper.
They are available at Saint Laurent's boutique in New York City and retail for what could only be defined as an immoral price - $1,995, though the brand also offers sneakers with roller skates that seem to be more affordable and are priced $1,195.
Now, to be really honest, the problem with these pumps-cum-roller skates is not the price (there are wealthy people who buy all sorts of useless things after all...) or the dilemma about being a safety risk (you can't obviously wear them in the street, but they're supposed to be a collectable item), but the fact that they are the modern rendition of an ironic work of art by Pippa - previously Philip (in the '80s the artist and designer began her transition to a different gender) - Garner.
In the '80s the California conceptual artist, designer and inventor came up with a lot of ideas that were meant to be provocative and ironic and that were usually combinations of two different items. Garner created for example an automobile made from an ordinary supermarket trolley that pointed at the alienation of the consumer and put together a book about them entitled Utopia...or Bust: Products for the Perfect World.
Garner's objects were ironic solutions for the present and the future of our society and among them there were also a series of impossible roller skates that combined for example a pair of brogues, a classical ballet shoe or a stiletto pump with wheels. Garner's high heel skate also went on display at the "Better Living" exhibition organised at The Boilerhouse, London, UK, in 1983.
The funniest thing about this connection is the fact that Garner's projects were employed to show the limits of our society and its hidden neuroses, they were therefore parodies of consumer products. Saint Laurents' stiletto roller skates are simply laughable as they seem to have marketed and taken to the luxury level the neuroses Garner was ridiculing.
That Vaccarello copied the idea without even mentioning Pippa Garner sounds also pathetic (he should have maybe called Pippa for a collaboration and asked her to model the shoes to make them more iconic; in this way he may have taken them to the art level).
Yet Vaccarello shouldn't be so ashamed considering that Alessandro Michele at Gucci also moved from Garner's "Bellowshoe" for his multi-coloured super high platforms. In a nutshell, it looks like everybody is currently at it, at least until Garner catches up with them or the social media unveil the connections.
Wondering which other products will become fashionable soon? Maybe they are hiding in this interview in which Garner showed some utopian prototypes. Mind you, the video is also worth watching especially for the reaction of the public when the artist and designer shows the infamous stiletto-cum-roller skates (around 6:51). Yes, they all laugh quite loudly and maybe we should all be doing the same in the face of the hilariously farcical modern fashion industry.