PARIS (AFP) - Paris fashion was reeling Sunday from Balenciaga's latest outrage/stroke of genius - platform Crocs.
The luxury brand, which hit the headlines in April with its €1,700 (S$2,724) blue leather "Ikea" bags, has raised eyebrows again by sending out five pairs of the comfortable, indestructible but undeniably ugly sandals in 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.
Another Fashionista critic, Alyssa Vingan Klein, added, "There are platform Crocs at Balenciaga. This is not a drill..."
Balenciaga's iconoclast designer Demna 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 - that taste forgot. His thigh-high Spandex boots have become a style sensation, worn and adored by celebrities and fashion mavens alike.
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 like Crocs and Birkenstocks have nonetheless been quietly coming up in the world. Last year the Scottish designer Christopher Kane produced a €500 (S$801) 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".