Every so often, I’ll start digging on a designer and go on a tear looking for vintage and consignment pieces. Lately, I’ve been on the hunt for pieces from Tuleh (I wrote about the now-defunct label last week) and Celine from the Michael Kors era.
But I’m always stalking the holy grail — affordable Alaïa. It’s hard to find. Azzedine Alaïa’s dresses can cost more than $3,000 retail. Belts are nearly as expensive. The shoes can easily run you $1,800. Even the consignment shoes are pricey, with some costing more than $600.
But it pays to keep your eyes peeled. Case in point: Last weekend, I dropped off 4 bags worth of cast-offs at Beacon’s Closet. As they were playing “she loves me, she loves me not” with my clothes, I browsed the racks. It was fairly slim pickings — until.
Nestled between the ancient Miu Miu pumps with peeling soles was a glimmer of grommet.
“Hmmm,” I mused silently. “You know who loves grommets? Alaïa.” (Need proof? Here are some recent Alaïa designs featuring grommets.)
I looked closer at the boots in question. They had been re-soled. The insole had been ripped out, leaving just glue and dirt. Frankly, they looked pretty gross. Except… the leather looked great. The lining was a familiar blush color. The grommets were entirely intact and perfectly inlaid. And the dangling zipper on the back? Emblazoned with the Alaïa name.
I flipped those bad boys over, ready for the inevitable sticker shock.
I couldn’t believe it. I had to be hallucinating, right?
THIRTY-FIVE DOLLARS? That was highway robbery! I rushed to the cash register before someone could inform me I was mistaken. The salesgirl’s eyes popped when she saw the price. “This is insane,” she said.
I grabbed the shopping bag and fled, afraid that I would wake from this eerily realistic shoe dream.
On Monday, I made a 7:30 a.m. stop at my cobbler’s and asked for a rush insole job.
By the end of the day (and $12 later), I was the proud owner of my own pair of Alaïa booties, for less than $50 (1/50th of the retail price). I’ve worn the boots twice since, and I would gladly sleep in them if it didn’t gross my husband out.
Lesson? Know your designers. Know your details. Keep faith. And never pay retail.