With the brogue being one of those classic gentlemen’s standards seeing a revival in the last couple of seasons, cult shoe design brand Elsa is offering a suitably individual take this season. Perfect for a traipse through the warm countryside or looking chic on an elegant terrace, Elsa’s current men’s collection is based largely on the idea of two-tone. But, whereas some models definitely do offer the more traditional approach to the concept –differing colours for obvious sections that comprise the shoe itself- some take the idea in the playful and inventive direction for which the brand has become particularly known.
Perhaps the most seductive and individual of the current designs are the ones that combine the traditional warm brown leather associated with such shoes with a zingy apple green, drawing on the country palette of grass and trees in bloom that seem to inspire the collection. Rather than confined to the traditional individual segments, this stunning colour combination is used on beautifully simple lace-ups with clean lines. The shoes appear to have been simply dipped into the colour or painted in bold flowing lines that almost mimic the traditional join lines of the shoe where there are, in fact, none. Any of these bold gestural designs is guaranteed to turn onlookers just as green with envy.
A number of the other designs in the collection use more traditional colour combinations, giving the initial appearance of being a far more conservative shoe. But, as is so often the case with Elsa’s shoes, nothing is exactly what it seems at first glance. Closer inspection soon reveals the signature subtle variations on traditional design or clever little visual puns such as in the model that uses two tones of different brown leather, playing with the contrast between the sleek mocha front and the richer aged leather of the rear section of the shoe. The contrast is continued in a clever use of two different wood-like veneers on the heel.
And, needless to say, produced using top Italian craftsmanship, Elsa’s shoes are known as much for their comfort as their stark designs. The brand is a collaboration between the Belgian shoe and accessory designer Els Proost and Italian shoe producer extraordinaire Angelo Penazzato. Els established her impeccable credentials long before starting the brand with Angelo as a shoe designer for Dries Van Noten, Emporio Armani and Maison Martin Margiela. Similarly, Angelo was already a favoured producer for such discerning brands as Costume National, Hussein Chalayan and Angelo Figus before launching Elsa some six years ago.
Both the men’s and women’s collections are sold in their charming flagship store in the Nationalestraat in Antwerp’s fashion district. It’s an exercise in understated elegance, eschewing overly fussy design in favour of a simplicity that emphasises the beautiful vintage parquet. Fortunately for those not lucky enough to get them from the source, they are also sold in discerning stockists around the world including stores in France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Russia and the USA.