Monday, October 12, 2009

Casadei Purple Suede Peep Toe Strappy Shoes

This is in my Designer Heels series.  You can read the introduction here.

This is the final design in my Designer Shoe series, and I left my least favorite for last.  The color is obnoxious; the straps are thin and weird; the suede is a bad fabric choice; the heel looks like a pair of leeches attached to the ends of the foot; the whole shoe is just ugly.
I tried to come up with a way to redeem this shoe.  Perhaps changing the color to red would help.

Wow.  Changing the color did a LOT for this shoe.  The only thing that still bothers me is the heel; it should be less organic and leech-y.
But excluding the heel, the red version of this shoe is actually a decent design.  It goes to show that if you make great design choices and then mess up one tiny element (color, for instance) the whole design falls apart.

Casadei Flora Swarovski Platform Peep-Toe Shoes

This is in my Designer Heels series.  You can read the introduction here.

These shoes are my favorites out of the lot.  They would make amazing bridal shoes, but would look out-of-place anywhere else (much like the wedding dress itself).  The lines are elegant; the flower is appropriately-sized; the white invokes feelings of innocence and beauty.  The only thing I would change about this shoe would be to tone down the diamonds on the platform and the heel itself.  They add a nice sparkle, but if plastered on too thick, they just look gaudy (see Fountain Pens).
Overall, I like these the most out of all of the designer shoes I researched, but the $1,152 price tag means that no-one will be getting these as a Christmas present anytime soon.

Casadei Red Satin Pump Wedge Cut-out Shoes

This is in my Designer Heels series.  You can read the introduction here.

The Casadei Red Satin Pump Wedge Cut-outs (CRSPWC) are amazing.  They are by far the most ridiculous shoes I have ever seen.  The red satin is aggressive, as is the pointed shape of the toes.  The cut-out wedge shape is one of the most ridiculous heel designs ever (with the notable exception of these shoes).
The heel shape is what really makes it look awful.  If the heel were shorter, it would work much better, but the extreme angle of the foot only highlights the awkwardness of the shape, not the aggressive-but-elegant styling of the shoe.  The color works well: anybody wearing these shoes wants to be noticed, and the red makes them more noticeable.
The only real improvement I can make (without throwing out the heel design entirely) is to make it significantly shorter.

Casadei Black Satin and Lace Platform Booties

This is in my Designer Heels series.  You can read the introduction here.

The Casadei Black Satin and Lace Platform Booties (hereafter referred to as the CBSLPB) retail for about $994.  The sides are black lace, and the toe and heel are black satin.  There is a black bow placed on the top of the foot.  It has an extreme stiletto heel.
I laughed when I saw these.  The lace is ridiculous.  Take out the lace, put in black satin all around, get rid of the platform (or at least make it shorter.  It looks like a boat right now), and maybe it would work.  As it is, they would be impossible to walk in, and the black lace reminds me of funeral attire.  Other than that, the CBSLPB's general shape (except the boat-prow) works pretty well.

Shoes. Weird Ones. (An Introduction)

Girls' obsession with designer shoes intrigues me.  I can understand spending long stretches of time shopping for something (I've been known to research paintball guns for hours at a time).  I can also understand (albeit in a less-personal way) spending extravagant amounts of money for something that's usefulness is LESS than the "common" item it is to replace (nobody can argue that designer heels are more functional than tennis-shoes or even flats).

What intrigues me is how they can consistently generate an opinion of these shoes when they all look the same.

Because this blog is to be an exploratory exercise, I decided to expand my horizons.  I rolled up my sleeves and started researching designer shoes.  Specifically heels.  I would become the shoe connoisseur.  I would add "shoe design appreciation" to my ever-increasing list of skills.

I asked my best source of girly information: my girlfriend.  She, however, has much more sense than most girls, and thinks designer shoes are silly.  She was no help.
Not to be deterred, I asked my second-best source: my mother.  Mom had no idea (she is a lot like Nadia in the "designer shoes" department) but after some googling, she sent me to to look for shoes.  I clicked a random shoe designer ("Casadei") and critiqued several of their designs.

It was harder than I thought it would be, but I persevered, and now I feel as though I have more of an appreciation for high-heeled shoes (both designer and... well... not designer), though my female friends may not agree.  We will see.

The result is in the following blog posts.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Real Life Batman IV

This is a continuation in my Batman-costume-themed posts.  For the first Real Life Batman post, click this link, or for the second, click here, or for the third, click here.

The sequel to Batman Begins saw a change to the suit.

In The Dark Knight, Bruce Wayne asks his supplier for a new suit that will allow him to react faster and make him more agile in combat.  The new suit design reflects these design considerations in visible ways.
First of all, instead of one smooth armor "skin", the new suit is made of segmented plates.  The plates seem to have some sort of iron chain mail built in, and for the first time ever, live-action Batman can turn his head.  Exciting!  However, some complain that the end result is very busy and distracting.
I personally like the Batman Begins suit more.  It gives him a presence that just isn't there in the new suit.  The Begins suit's smoother lines add significant bulk to Christian's moderately-large frame.  The new segmented plate armor spoils the illusion by reminding the audience of the actor's true size.

Side-by-side comparison, just for fun:


Real Life Batman III

This is a continuation in my Batman-costume-themed posts.  For the first Real Life Batman post, click this link, or for the second, click here.

In 2005, director Christopher Nolan decided to take the live-action Batman genre into unknown territory: true nitty-gritty action/adventure.  Trying to draw a more mature audience, Batman Begins tried to imitate the successful comic book model.

Worn by Christian Bale during the movie, this costume is pretty amazing.  It, like the Batman and Robin costume, departs from the timeless black-on-gray, but opts for real-world practicality over the shiny silver stylizing of the 1997 movie.  The matte black would be better suited for real-world night fighting, and the armor plates would be better for protection than spandex.  The suit even gives a nod to the original comic art with a drab yellow utility belt.

Real Life Batman II

This is a continuation in my Batman-costume-themed posts.  For the first Real Life Batman post, click this link.

In 1997, several big-name Hollywood stars got together in a big Batman and Robin movie event.

Chris O'Donnell played Robin, Uma Thurman played Poison Ivy, Arnold Schwarzenegger played Mr Freeze, and George Clooney played Batman.
Their costumes are also ridiculous, but in a different way.  The movie was meant to be a big Hollywood action piece, but still kept a comedic tone.  This lightness saved it from being a total flop.  The costumes are over-stylized (Especially Batman's).  If the whole suit were drab colored, and the silver accents were darkened and muted, it might work, but the silver is just too busy and way too bright. 
For the savior of the night, Batman sure is shiny.

Real Life Batman

In the past two posts I have talked about the evolution of Batman's designs in Comics and in Cartoons.  This final set of Batman posts will be about the evolution of his designs in both live-action Cinema and TV.

When I was a kid, my brothers and I would stay up really late, until 7PM, to watch Batman.  Two episodes played back-to-back, and the episodes were always two-part sagas.  The now-classic statement "Tune in next time for the exciting conclusion!  Same Bat-time; Same Bat-channel!" always made me wonder: What if the next episode wouldn't show until NEXT week at 7!?  But it never did.  It was always immediately following (to my great relief every single week.)

This design almost perfectly copies the original comic book Batman's suit, all the way from the grey spandex to the bluish-black highlights, yellow utility belt, and prominent bat-symbol.
On a real person, it looks absolutely ridiculous.  Fortunately, the show was a comedy, and so the ridiculous design actually complimented the overall effect.  If it was to be anything else other than a comedy, the suit would need to be seriously re-designed, but for its target genre, it works well.

Batman Cartoons

In a previous post, I talked about issues in Batman's comic-book designs.  In this post, I will discuss Batman's cartoon designs.  Though many assume they are the same, they are vastly different.

The evolution of Batman's designs in comic books was mainly brought about by the aging of its primary readership.  However, batman's cartoons' audience has stayed firmly in the younger age group.  As the comic readership base grew older, they stopped watching the tv shows, while the new kids began watching.  Therefore, the bright colors and humorous banter between the heroes and sidekicks stayed.

Batman cartoons have stayed essentially looking like this for years.  Batman's outfit is a darkish gray with blackish-blue highlights  Yellow utility belt.  Bold Batman logo on the chest.  Kids love it.  Adults make fun of it (especially Robins' outfit), but the target audience (kids) is happy, so it accomplishes its purpose remarkably well, and has done so for decades.

Batman Comics

Batman is one of the most well-known super heroes of all time.  Originally appearing in Detective Comics #27, Batman soon became one of the cornerstones of DC comics.

His original outfit design:

Eventually improved to:

He stayed more or less this way for a while.  Then, the cultural attitude changed.

Super heroes were no longer only for kids.  The kids who grew up with comic books now continued to read comic books as adults.  They wanted something more mature.  Something darker.  More gritty.
The hyper-bright yellows and greens and oranges are gone.  Dark grays, washed-out blues, and occasional yellow accents became the norm in Batman comics (and still are, in most Batman comic book lines).  The comics move more towards heavy plotlines and ideas, and display the grisly aftermath of Batman's decisions in vivid detail.
As a no-longer-kid, I can see the advantages of the grim, dark, subdued art style.  Kids like the lighter, funnier Batman because he is THEM in their imaginations.  They imagine themselves kicking bad guys and tying them up with Bat-rope and leaving them for Bat-mom to collect as she cooks dinner.
But adults have a darker view of life, and it is displayed in their comics.  For an adult to associate with Batman, the hero must have the same inner struggles as the reader, and must follow the same "laws of the world" that the reader follows.
That said, I miss the times when the bright pastel Batman and Robin would entertain my imagination for hours.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Designer Pools

Most people put pools in their yards just to swim and relax. 

However, there are a few who use their pool as a piece of lawn-art as well.

This is a  fairly simple pool, designed to make the maximum artistic use of an oddly shaped space.  It accomplishes the artistic part well, though I'm not sure it would be worth swimming in.  It might make a good hot-tub.

This pool is artistic and gross.  The colors and patterns clash all over the place.  The strange bridge has a completely different pattern than the rest of the walls, and a totally different color scheme.  If they had stuck with the zig-zag scheme for the whole tiled area, the design would work better, but it still reminds me more of a kiddie-playground than anything else.  The colors are simple and unsophisticated, which hurts the overall effect.

This pool is crazy.  I like the themed area; the bridge, trees, furniture, and the grass surrounding the main pool area.  I understand that this is only a model, but if the plans are put into a real pool deck, it would make a great artistic addition, while still retaining total functionality.