2.08.2011

i just can't quit you, isabel

i remember the first time i heard of 'cult' designer Isabel Marant. it was around 2008, and i was still pretty new to the indie fashion world. i remember seeing some of her shirts and sandals at Impulse Seattle's blog (now Totokaelo), and while i was on the fence about her ready-to-wear, i did really like a pair of red flat sandals. since then, a lot of her collection has been hit-or-miss for me.

after a lot of deliberation and wardrobe editing, i recently got a pair of the much sought-after taupe suede ankle boots (formerly called the 'Bidou', 'Lacow', 'Laboy', 'Forbes', and now 'Dicker'). i've never purchased anything from IM save for another pair of boots that were heavily discounted at Steven Alan last year. much to my relief, the ankle boots look to be well-made, are flattering on, and are very comfy.


the dicker boot: a sleek, pared-down IM version of the classic American cowboy boot. 

however, i have mixed feelings about IM's worldwide cult appeal. are people really snapping up IM at full retail because the stuff is that great, or is it mostly to bask in the glory of getting purposely-limited-production merchandise - shopping just for the thrill of the chase? is most of it just hype?

i'm still a bit irked by the 'exclusive' gimmick of making small boutiques across the country sell all IM clothes and shoes offline, with phone orders as the only way to purchase. in this age of online shopping (and along with that, identity theft), i think it's completely pretentious for a fashion designer to make her customers go through such a risky inconvenience. i know Net-a-Porter and the IM boutique in NYC carry the line now, but still.

so i suppose i'd consider myself a selective fan of IM. the dicker boots look to be quite versatile, and i'm confident that i'd get enough wear out of them to justify the price.

what do you think? what's your take on IM and the seasonal "It" pieces from her collection?

Edit: Cintra Wilson's review of Isabel Marant in the NYT's Critical Shopper column is worth a read.

 
jcrew tee, j brand jeans, virginia johnson scarf, spiewak parka, jerome dreyfuss bag, isabel marant dicker boots 
 jcrew tee, current/elliott jeans, rag & bone tux jacket, dicker boots
jcrew tee, AA lace tank, jcrew pant, banana republic camel coat, dicker boots

*alternatively, there are some great options at lower price points. i've done a post on them here.

38 comments:

  1. To be honest IM is not a designer I pay any attention to, nothing against her, just not my style. I'm not very "french" in that way.

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  2. pret: i agree with you on that sentiment to an extent - while i do love some of the more general signature aspects of 'french' style (the mariner shirts, neutral palettes, gamine look, etc), honestly there are many pieces in IM's RTW these recent seasons that i find rather 'meh'.

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  3. I'm completely distracted by your fantastic Rag and Bone tux jacket - LOVE. I held back from buying one online about 2 years ago because I didn't want to buy something expensive without trying it on (not to mention that shipping was US$50!), but I've felt a pang of regret since.

    IM seems to have the knack for making very beautiful basics in lux materials but I've always been taken aback by her prices. I think her coats and jackets look pretty cool, but the rest of it is pretty much good styling.

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  4. I am not a fan of her last couple of collections, but I love the pieces I bought in the past. It's a bit hit and miss really. I think Vanessa Bruno is more consistent. And the quality is just as good. That said, your boots rock! And I love that Virginia Johnson scarf.

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  5. I've become interested in some of her jackets--and deeply regret not getting a couple of other ones during the net-a-porter sale. The one I did purchase is so beautifully made. That said, most of her garments are for women much slimmer than I am, so I don't dream of having the items. I know how bad they would look. There are other ways to be "French."

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  6. lin: there's a good chance that rag & bone will make a similar tux jacket - i have to say that i do find it to fit true to size. i love mine - definitely need to bring it out more for nights out. and yeah i hate to say it but j.crew makes excellent 'inspired by' versions of IM's cotton basics at a fraction of the price, so i'll be continuing to get my basics from jcrew.

    ammnu: thank you! i wonder why Vanessa Bruno is still underrated...must be due to the fact that she doesn't have the EIC of French Vogue as the house consultant/stylist :P

    aesthetic alternations: i agree! and i definitely agree that you also don't have to pay so much for a dress or jacket to add a little 'french chic' to your wardrobe. although i am in love with the past-season IM Bator jacket. sigh...

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  7. i love those boots. and i will admit, i love almost everything isabel marant even though i'm a bit bigger than her "target" girl. she just seems to know what's perfect for the moment...

    that said, her price point is way out of my reach, although my local barney's co-op carries the line now, and all of it went on sale. i hate that she doesn't allow btqs to sell her pieces online, but i think she'll come around. i mean, now that the big guys get to, she'll have to start agreeing to let the independent boutiques do it...

    at the same time though, i kind of admire that she doesn't think she needs to do what everyone else does to be successful. she has her own ideas.

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  8. i'm also not 100% sold by isabel marant's stuff and the exclusivity also irks me. i think that some things she designs especially well, like coats, jackets, and shoes, but most of the other stuff is a bit too "loud" for my taste and way out of my budget (remember those god-awful dyed fur coats from last season?).

    oh, and i friggin' loooooove your boots! though i'm in the midst of a spending freeze, i'm considering these in the black suede. how did they run size wise?

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  9. grechen: i appreciate your more optimistic take on it, but i've a more cynical read on IM's brand strategy in the past few seasons...the offline/'exclusive' gimmick really plays to the super-competitive, covetous, and dare-i-say insecure impulses of her customers - and it really isn't necessary! i'm all for young designers and under-the-radar labels doing their own unique thing in the over-saturated industry, but it's pretty transparent that IM has been milking the indie appeal of her collection and purposely making it extremely difficult to access her merchandise to amp up demand, mystique, and hype around her label. unfortunately, with the exception of a jacket or two and the ankle boots, the rest of her collection remains to be proven to me that it's worthy of the hype.

    jennifer: yep, i totally agree with you there. the boots run true IMO. i'm a 6.5 usually and the 37s are just right, and i think i even have a little room for a thin insole.

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  10. This is neither here nor there, but I think it's cute that you're wearing a Jerome Dreyfuss bag in this post since he's IM's husband. :) Love your blog, by the way.

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  11. luisa: thank you for the sweet comment! :) the billy bag is a great design, and i find jD charming and witty in his interviews and videos and his approach to designing women's accessories. i do think IM and JD are quite the cute couple in fashion.

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  12. I think she is right about avoiding e-shopping. I personally do not understand how you can possibly buy any kind of clothing or shoes online (unless you have tried a piece in real life and then found a better price online). You can't try it on (things look different on everyone), you can't touch the fabric, you can't feel if the heel or the width of the shoe is right... I don't understand people who shop for clothing on the internet.
    As for IM and also Vanessa Bruno (they are so similar) - some of the pieces are great (you have to try them on) and some can be unflattering or cut for very small framed girls.

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  13. ugh every time i see these boots i wish i didn't wait to buy them. i have since settled for some more readily accessible rachel comey ones, but man, those Dickers are the shit!

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  14. NG: i shop pretty often online and aside from the much better deals to be had, usually i go with my measurements and call the boutique or store for more sizing clarification if need be. it makes the most sense to shop online with a store that has a reasonable to generous return/exchange policy, of course, but it's not even the totally anti-e-commerce aspect of the IM policy that irks people (me included), but it's that no photos or prices are allowed to be posted and there's this exaggerated 'hugh-hush' ritual to figuring out what's even in stock at boutiques.

    julie: i'm waiting for the weather to warm up just a tad to wear mine out. which RC boots did you get? RC makes some great shoes too, i have a pair of her boots that i've worn through slush, ice and snow this winter and they're no worse for wear!

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  15. I find Isabel Marant underwhelming. Her clothes are nice, and I've always liked pieces here or there. But, I'm not sure her designs justify the cult she inspires*. And, I've made a concerted effort to figure her out! It seems most women whose style I love also love IM. A blogger I like is a huge fan, and I do get inspired when I see her IM clothing. The coats are often spot-on. But, I'd probably agree with lin; sometimes it seems like great styling above all else.

    I'm realizing now that I've paid little attention to her prices (and the items I've seen in person were usually from Etoile). Yikes; they're a little scary! Besides, her entire business strategy brings out the cynic in me. And, apropos of nothing, I've found her irksome in interviews!

    * I have no idea if it's true, but I remember one French blog-commenter who said Marant-style offerings are standard on the high street. So, she doesn't inspire nearly the same frenzy in her home country (although she is popular there).

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  16. Hi Sophie,

    Thanks for your lovely comment on my blog!

    As a fellow Dicker boot owner I have to agree these really are brilliant boots and beautifully made. As soon as I pur them on I was struck by the good fit and how well they were constructed. They go with so many different looks as you've shown above - particularly like the last one!
    I feel confident too that like you I'll wear them enough, and get a great deal of enjoyment out of them, to justify the heart stopping price!

    I agree there is such a charged atmosphere around IM. There are some pieces I absolutely love (these boots, the Etoile AW10 striped jumper)but there are also others too where I have to check myself and think "Do I really like this or do I simply think I have to have it because it is IM?"

    Olivia xx

    http://gonewiththefashion.blogspot.com

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  17. ashley: i really love the idea behind IM's designs. there is a slouchy, insouciant feeling to her designs that i think appeals to many stylish women who don't necessarily want to 'dress for men' in the conventional way. the pieces are easy to wear and the shoes are comfortable (well, at least the ankle boot and the tall boots, not sure about those cone-heel versions!). i would like to see better materials and more attention to detail to match up the prices that she's charging. i think Rag & Bone does pieces like jackets and whatnot at similar prices with better craftsmanship.

    olivia: yeah, i think it's always important to step back from the hype and the fashions to examine why it is you're obsessed with a particular designer or piece. i'm sorry that you had to deal with crazy VAT taxes on top of the already-expensive boots!! :( when i was in london last year i stopped by Aimé in notting hill which carried a fair amount of IM. would love to see how you style your dicker boots in the months to come :)

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  18. ah, you just got another great pair of shoes that I will drool over! the boots are perfect.

    I once ordered an IM pants on sale at Totokaelo with great expectations and found the fit, fabric and construction quite wanting---in one sense her aesthetics looks like something made by a French girl who knows how to thrift darn well. She knows how to play the airy look with her tops so I still love her sweaters (I wear them to death, the slouch is perfect) but I would never pay full price----but having said that, I've never seen a boots done so perfect as hers (and I don't wear the knee high boots often but every time I put it on I just melt in admiration).

    About the elusive practice she's doing---it's weird but it's fine with me, it keeps me from jumping onto her items because I need to ask that "uh, do I want this that badly?" question.

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  19. The boots get the thumbs-up, but I looked through her recent Spring collection and basically got beaten over the head with boring capri pants.

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  20. nanashi: the thrift aesthetic is exactly what Cintra Wilson noted in her review when the IM boutique opened in Soho last spring. you're right, IM has an uncanny eye for the silhouette and shape, especially in her tops, jackets and shoes. and so funny that you actually make wiser decisions to purchase (or not!) as a result of IM's marketing strategy! :D

    sarah: ha! your comment totally made me laugh. i think the resurgence every spring of capris and khakis deserves another post!

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  21. Congrats and I love all of your outfits. You have this innate chicness that I want to emulate!

    I agree with most of the comments here.. I hated her 3-4 last collections but the items separated are either a hit or miss. IM used to be a lot cheaper back in the days but due to her sudden popularity (the otway boots), the prices increased significantly.

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  22. Fleurette - that's super sweet coming from you! your many posts on wardrobe planning and other matters of well-curated style are must-reads that i click back to quite often. let's continue to inspire each other towards an aesthetic that transcends hype, trends, and seasons. :)

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  23. Love your camel coat!

    For the past few seasons Isabel Marant has left me cold. Having said that I still lust over her earlier collections (atumumn/winter 07 is a personal favourite of mine!) However, I do find that individual pieces insert themselves perfectly into my wardrobe, especially from the Etoile line.. I'd just never buy a head to toe look, not that I could ever afford it!

    herribbonsandherbows.blogspot.com/

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  24. I succumed to the Dicker boots too. I have them in brown leather as well, and they are the perfect boots. There's no snow here right now, so I just tried them on outside.
    In one way I can understand the online policy, if the reason for it was that you should get the whole try it on, feel the fabric experience. However, I don't think that's the reason in this case. I love online shopping, but I'm fortunate to have three stores that carry Etolie here, so I don't have to worry too much about it. There's always eBay as well...

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  25. Sophie - I love your boots. where did you find them and how much? If you don't mind the questions.

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  26. alexandra: thank you :) i did a post on tweaking the fit of this banana republic camel coat last month - it's one of my best high street purchases, i think. i need to scour ebay more for 'new vintage' Marant!

    garderoben: ooh - do you find your IM boots to hold up well? i sprayed mine with a suede water protectant and got vibram half soles and heel caps for traction. the boot still strikes me as quite delicate compared to my other boots...

    anonymous: thank you! :) i got them from Stuart and Wright and they were around $560. i very, very rarely ever pay full retail for anything, but i think i'll wear these so often that the cost-per-wear will ease my initial purchase guilt :P

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  27. miss sophie: I got the black Penpal boots, and the chestnut brown Memo boots. I love them both but would definitely like to add some suede IM boots to my collection :)

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  28. My leather ones hold up really well, the leather ages beautifully. Suede is much more delicate, I'e also addes protective soles and spray them all the time. I can't really tell how they'll make through rain and bad weather yet.

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  29. julie: IM will surely re-do the suede boots next season, so keep an eye out in August when they re-appear :)

    garderoben: yeah, i did the same. even though i sprayed mine with a suede protector, i just don't plan on wearing them when it's wet out. hopefully that makes a difference.

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  30. The boots are gorgeous, and you wear them beautifully. I just recently bought the black suede version myself but have yet to wear them outside. I have to admit that I'm one of those (grudgingly) devoted IM fans. I hate the hype, exclusivity, and the more showy mainline looks but love her more classic and basic pieces. I haven't found any other brand that matches the slouchy, relaxed vibe and excellent fit. J.Crew tries, but the fit is never the same. I wish I could find another brand like hers, because I hate shelling out the $$ for it.

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  31. Hi!

    New to your blog and also new to my isabel marant boots!

    I just purchased them last month and have not started to wear them because I have taken them to a cobbler yet. Do you live in New York? the city streets are crazy rough and I do loads of walking. Where did you go to get your rubber soles added and what color did you opt for?

    From the photos it looks to be a deep brown to match the heel. Let me know I'd really appreciate. I want these babies to last for a lifetime!

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  32. Anon: thanks for stopping by and commenting! :D

    i took these to my usual cobbler (cobbler is such a funny, outdated word! but i can't figure out the alternative...) who does all my shoes and just asked for a Vibram half sole and rubber heel cap. they actually added a very thin layer of brown paint or stain around the edge of the half sole to make it match the heel, but honestly it's not really necessary. i asked for a taupe half sole to match the original leather outsole, but that's just my preference. so long as you don't wear them out in the rain and get them cleaned once in a while, i think the IM booties will wear nicely for a long time!

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  33. I have been wanting ankle booties for so long. Now that IM dicker boots are back in stock. What do you think, black or brown?

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    1. i vote the light brown - the suede looks especially great in lighter colors IMO :)

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    2. Hi,

      I just stopped by your blog and found this old post. No wonder the lighter taupe ones are sold so quickly on NAP.
      I found people wear these boots mostly when they wear a dress or short, which is hardly seen on me. So I just paid for a pair of dark taupe on the original price, thinking it can match with most of my jeans.

      Love your scarf~

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  34. I personally agree with you on IM. I'm just not a fan despite her popularity in the fashion world.

    And I have to say I LOVE your tux jacket!

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  35. I have been considering getting the Jerome dreyfuss Billy bag but i'm not sure if i want the large or medium. I'm afraid the large might look too big on me. What size is your Billy? It looks perfect.

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    1. hey Carla - just saw your comment - somehow it wound up hidden away in my spam filter! this is the billy L, though honestly i think an M is perfect for most people and there's plenty of room for everything! hope that helps :)

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