Well. Passage des perles is supposed to be about elegance. But today, in unrelenting slanty rain, is the first day of the season I've slipped on my Blundstones, and I cannot resist an ode to their funky fabulousness.
They're the Volvo of the shoe world: if you like them, you're a lifer. You appreciate their boxy, up-for-anything, unpretentious and stalwart presence. You even think they're handsome, in a nerdy way. Like a happy marriage, you start dazzled and progress to deep respect and admiration.
I have two pairs, old and not so old, and I get them mixed up. Blundstones can take abuse: we have snow, sneet, slush and evil fall-inducing ice, all of it laced with corrosive salt, served liberally for the next 4.5 months. Want to know what that does to Italian leather?
My secret weapon for the coldest months: adding snuggly sheepskin insoles.
If I have a formal business meeting, I might capitulate to my fashion boots. Then I peek under the table and see several pairs of Blunnies. In fact, I wore mine to a meeting and my host said, "Are those the Australian boots?" She went out that evening to buy them.
In the settings I've worked in most recently (tech, publishing, retail) they're hip enough for casual work wear, but when I'm in more conservative offices, a pair of shoes tucks in my briefcase.
One of Toronto's more unusual attractions, The Bata Shoe Museum, holds a charity event each fall, and invites 40 artists to customize Blundstones. Above, two of this year's entries by David Kibuuka, top, and Alain Parizeau, bottom.