I wore a pair of hot pink lattice-weave jelly sandals through the entire summer of 1990. I wore them to camp; to tennis lessons, to the soccer field (where I typically did not play), to the pool, in the pool, and beyond. Suffice to say, I rather liked those jelly sandals. C’mon, it was 1990; who didn’t worship jellies?
Why would I be reminiscing about such an uncomfortable – not to mention fairly unstylish – pair of shoes, you ask?
For one, jellies have a special place in my heart. They mark a brief but distinct period in my generation’s style evolution. A memory that falls somewhere in between The Heathers and Clueless; a time before Winona went klepto* and definitely before we could’ve dreamed up Alicia Silverstone’s yellow plaid three-piece ensemble or her character’s virtual closet. I had long ago filed jellies away as a brief interlude in reality; a subversive place and time in which plastic shoes were trendy and thought to be especially so if a Disney princess was prominently featured upon the toe. (I was four years old, okay?)
But that doesn’t answer the question. Why jellies? Truth is, I got to thinking back nearly 20 years as the result of a pretty random conversation.
Follow my train of thought here:
(e.g. Facebook chat)
ME: I’m brainstorming on quintessential summer wear. That’s what I’d like to explore next. You know, what clothes, shoes, accessories get you amped for warm weather. What makes you think back to the excitement of summer break? The countdown through the final days of school?
STRAIGHT MALE FRIEND: I dunno. My brain is totally focused on jelly fish right now. My friend is producing this documentary on jelly fish and I’m heading to this lecture later and…blah, blah, blah.
ME: OMG! Jellies! That is GENIUS! Vivienne Westwood’s Anglomania is such an amazing throwback!
STRAIGHT MALE FRIEND: Huh? Wait, what? Oh yeah, your blog. Yeah, cool idea.
Ugh, boys. I digress. A stroke of brilliance none-the-less.
The beauty of Viv’s Anglomania is multi-faceted.
1) She’s bringing back jellies! Heck yeah! Don’t tell me you weren’t getting all teary eyed and sentimental thinking back to your own adolescent summer spent in the darn things.
2) Um, I can actually buy them? In partnership with Melissa, the line is definitely affordable, with pairs hovering in the $100 range, depending on style.
- These tri-ankle-strap gladiators are only $88.
3) A far cry from the original jellies of 1979 (created by Melissa), the Westwood-Melissa line is made of MEFLEX, a non-toxic plastic made from 100% recycled plastic – supposedly both breathable and eco-friendly.
Of course, the famously flame-haired Brit isn’t the first to dive into Melissa’s diffusion designer zone. Way before Target had Go International or H&M was shooing away hoards of COMME des GARCONS & Matthew Williamson fans, Melissa partnered with some of the biggest names in fashion. In 1983, the Brazilian shoemaker was already collaborating with Jean-Paul Gaultier and Thierry Mugler in São Paulo.
A few more recent Melissa guest designers include: Zaha Hadid, Judy Blame (Part of Louis Vuitton Design Team), Alexandre Herchcovitch, Cavalera and Isabela Capeto.
Speaking to the brand’s growing popularity, Melissa's creative director Edson Matsuo asked the New York Times back in April: “Why should modern design and taste only be characterized by expensive products for the wealthy classes?”
Good question, Matsuo, good question. The jelly sandal movement doesn’t exactly inspire socialism, but it’s a bubblegum colored start if I ever saw one.
*In a twist of fate, yesterday was the anniversary of Ryder’s trial for the theft of almost $4,000 worth of designer clothing from Saks Fifth Avenue in New York.
Photo credit: Vivienne Westwood Anglomania + Melissa advertisement, Summer 2009.