Not many people in fashion today can claim spending time with friends Andre Courrèges, Guy Laroche and Roman Polanski at Paris' trendy gym Le Samurai at the beginning of the fitness craze in 1979.But Jean-Michel Cazabat, a French-born shoe designer in business since 2000, can. And like the fitness movement, he has endured several incarnations.His latest collection, which is repositioned to its designer price point after some experiments in lower tiers and Chinese manufacturing, takes its cues from that magical era in fashion, France in the Sixties. The boot with an almond-shaped toe and chunky heel is a signature of the era and the collection. Cazabat imagined it in a croc-embossed "Saint Laurent" green velvet, a metallic brocade fabric and a plastic studded velvet with an amour effect. Shorter styles in colorblock suede recall Mondrian à la Yves Saint Laurent in the Sixties, while another style is adorned with a buckle across the toe inspired by a bracelet found recently at a Paris flea market that Cazabat purchased for his wife. Speaking of wives, the designer recalled Courrèges showing up to the gym in a "baby blue cosmonaut suit and his wife in a pink cosmonaut suit."The collection is big on shine, a Cazabat hallmark, but not in crystal embellishment. Evening sandals were accented with ankle straps and T-straps in meshlike technical fabrics that add shimmer. One such evening style, a retro platform he calls "Disco Inferno," lives up to its name. Fishnet and cage details are also strong in the collection and perhaps evidence of an early trend emerging. Sexy suede booties with a cut-outs, a lace-up "combat" heel and an over-the-knee suede stiletto with fishnet insets — a style lent for Naomi Campbell on the latest Lee Daniels TV show, "Star" — made the point best.
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