Free Associations: The Utilitarian Lace-Up Sandal

When we saw Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren’s 1983 pink-laced “Punkature” sandals in a glass case at FIT’s new retrospective, we felt they looked familiar – like maybe we remembered seeing them on the city sidewalks somewhere.

Indeed, when we checked with photographer-about-town Kristen Joy Watts, she confirmed we’d seen a similar pair tied around her fashionable feet.

Bernhard Willhelm does these collaborations with Camper,” she said of her sandals, similar to the version pictured here in tan.

“I have two pairs -- black and then the orange ones I bought last summer. I know the black ones were recycled materials. I'm not sure about the newer ones. I also have those brown leather ones that I bought at Harvey Nichols the summer of 2005. I've since dyed them dark brown, worn them to Africa twice and all over Asia, and replaced the laces, and had them resoled, like, ten times.” (At top, she wears them in Seoul in 2006.)

A little research told us Bernhard Willhelm’s Westwood-influenced sandals make perfect sense -- he assisted her during his studies at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp. And like Westwood and (former Sex Pistols manager) McLaren's work, Willhelm’s has a musical bent as well. In addition to these addictive sandals, he has created looks exclusively for Bjork, who embodies the fashion-forward - and forward-thinking - design sense that Willhelm might have learned from Westwood herself.

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