Friday, 7 May 2010

Hell For Leather

Hell For Leather…

La Rioja is famed for its glorious wine and beautiful, rugged terrain. What you may not know, is that it is also home to Neosens, a cult Spanish footwear label that has earned a special place in my “little black book” of secret style destinations. Spain, along with Italy, has a rich history when it comes to quality leather goods. A couple of years ago, I had the honour of visiting La Rioja as a guest of Neosens. I and the other fashion editors were treated not only to some of the finest food and wine that the La Rioja region had to offer – but also to the pair of shoes or boots of our choice from the Neosens collection. Spanish brands such as Mango, Zara and Custo Barcelona have become synonymous with continental style, with the former collaborating with stellar names such as Penelope and Monica Cruz and Scarlett Johansson. Zara is known as the “go-to” destination for fashion insiders looking to rock the latest catwalk trends at high street prices. Neosens haven’t enlisted A-List actresses or mega-bucks campaigns in the effort to carve their own niche in the fashion world. But then again, they have no need to – the footwear does all the talking. With an aesthetic that is unique and a little bit “off”, they manage to update classic footwear, creating shoes and boots that look rugged and lived in. Every style tells a story – and what a story they tell. When I first spied the Cotton Club S723 biker boots in black, I fell in love. They were sat defiantly on a table, nestled amongst a series of other eye-catching styles. But like a mega-watt star amongst a sea of “wannabe’s”, they outshone their brothers and sisters, ensuring that not only my eyes, but the eyes of every other fashion editor, were firmly on them. For me, my love affair with style is so much about expressing how you feel at any given moment through the clothes and accessories you choose to wear. No-one is a better example of the chameleon effect that clothes have on the way you feel and the way others perceive you, than the Queen of Pop herself, Madonna. She’s played the virgin, the material girl, the conical-bra-wearing ambitious blonde, the dominatrix, the mother, the mystical guru, the mogul and most recently, the disco queen. While the black Cotton Club S723 boots made me feel like none of the above – what they did make me feel like was James Dean or Marlon Brando. Some days I dress like a character from Gossip Girl, all Ivy League and preppy, while other days I feel like channelling Tom Ford or Hedi Slimane. But more often than not, I love nothing more than to unleash my inner rebel, teaming my delightfully “beaten-up” Neosens boots with a pair of black skinnies, a fitted black t-shirt and a battered and much-loved leather jacket. In reality, I might still be me – but in my mind I feel like Marlon Brando in The Wild One – all brooding machismo and buckets full of attitude. And that for me, is the joy of Neosens. With so many cool styles to choose from, putting yourself into someone else’s shoes has never been quite so easy. The only tricky bit is deciding who you want to be.

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