PARIS • Balenciaga designer Demna Gvasalia does not toe the line when it comes to shoes.
On Sunday, Paris fashion was reeling from the label's latest outrage - platform Crocs.
The luxury brand, which hit headlines in April with its US$2,000 (S$2,700) blue leather "Ikea" bags, sent five pairs of the comfortable, durable but ugly sandals as part of its spring-summer collection.
"I'm sorry, am I hallucinating or did I just see platform Crocs from Balenciaga?" tweeted Tyler McCall of the Fashionista website.
Gvasalia is known for seeing the beauty in the banal, with some critics accusing him of "poverty chic" - remaking the clothes of the poor for the rich.
But he has a formidable track record of making hugely hot clothes - and particularly shoes.
His thigh-high Spandex boots have become a style sensation, worn and adored by celebrities.
The wunderkind has, however, a job on his hands with Crocs, which, as one joke goes, have holes in them "so your dignity can leak out".
"Ugly" shoes such as Crocs and Birkenstocks have nonetheless been quietly chalking up mileage.
Last year, Scottish designer Christopher Kane produced a US$590 line of fur-lined and crystal-encrusted Crocs.
While Vogue adored their comfort, critic Julia Hobbs said there was no getting over that "Crocs are ugly".
"They have nostril-like pores, and an upturned snout... When worn by grown-ups, they have an unrivalled ability to repel onlookers and induce sneers," she added.
Not content with attempting to rehabilitate Crocs, Gvasalia, the man behind the uber-cool Vetements label, also transformed fringed sun umbrellas into skirts and shop awnings into trousers.
This collection, however, was more slick than shocking, with very smart use of tartan in trousers, and tops and skirts often paired with chain straps taken from souvenir and duty free shops.
"The inherent possibilities" and the "exaggeration of everyday styles... is the design impulse" behind the show, he wrote in his show notes.