In the first few moments of seeing these triple-lace-up boots from Chocolat Blu on Ruelala.com last night, I was super excited. Of course I was going to get them, I thought, because they were a much cheaper version of the awesome, awe-inspiring boots by Ann Demeulemeester from her Fall 2008 line:
I first saw the Ann D's on SeaOfShoes.com, and was utterly swept away by their vicious beauty. I loved them so much I seriously considered forking over the $800 when they went on sale on gilt.com a couple months ago. But of course I missed the chance--they sold out faster than you can say "demeulemeester" and that was that.
It never occurred to me that other brands would have the audacity to copy Ann D's immortal creations. What nerve! But copy they did, even L.A.M.B. (whose proprietor has been known to sue Forever 21 for copying its own designs, what a joke!), and though most of the copies were quite impressive, none of them quite reaches the ethereal splendor of the original boots, and here are a few missing elements:
- Angled tops with extended tongue: One thing that makes the original Demeulemeester boots stand out is the way the tops of the boots slope gently upwards towards the front, with that extra-long front panel that shoots aggressively up past the laces. Many of the copies merely truncate the boot shaft right where the laces end. The Chocolat Blu ones do a decent job of imitating this boot shaft but are missing a few other elements as noted below.
- Off-set heel: At least in the high-heeled version featured on SeaOfShoes.com, one thing that really sets the Ann D's apart is the heel that isn't quite flush with the rest of the shoe. Awkwardly placed and yet very unique.
- That perfectly distressed quality of the leather: All the copycats use leather that is just too new-looking, which instantly does away with the 18th-century, steampunk, Tim-Burton-esque charm of the originals. The originals look like they've been worn for 100 years. The Chocolat Blu ones, by contrast, use patent leather. For shame!
- Extra long laces: In all the pictures I've seen of the Ann D's, there is a generosity of laces that allows you to wrap them a few times around the boot shaft, and still have enough left over for some floppy ties at the sides. Most of the fakes have just enough lace to tie a lame little bow at the top.
- Length of the rows of laces: By this, I mean the laces start much closer to the toe box on the original Ann D's as compared to the copycats. The Chocolat Blu ones start practically at the ankle, leaving a whole lot of blank space on the actual shoe part of the boot.
- That bit of extra stitching towards the toe: It's a relatively tiny detail, but it makes a difference. That little extra stitching before the laces start on the originals makes them somehow look more authentic.
So yeah, all the reasons above keeps the original Ann D's sacred, no matter who tries to copy them, but that said, I did end up ordering the Chocolat Blu boots because the Ann D's are sold out everywhere, and anyway they were as close as I was going to get to the originals at a mere $120.