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Starck Raving Rad — Ipenama + Starck Footwear Collection

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We may still be wearing boots, winter coats, and chunky sweaters, but the time has come to start daydreaming of bare legs and liberated, sock-free, sandal-clad feet — if only because there’s nothing to fight a severe case of winter blues like reminding yourself that spring and summer are right around the corner. To that end, lovely readers, I introduce you to the recently unveiled Ipanema + Starck collection which, in the French designer’s words, “explores the territory of high elegance with the utmost minimalism.” Well-known for his versatility and seemingly boundless creative output (his projects range from designing hotels and restaurants to creating furniture and everyday objects like lemon squeezers, staplers, and toothbrushes), Starck’s aesthetic has always been marked by a distinctly modern feel, an emphasis on clean lines and a simple but striking composition. Inventiveness and minimalism can and do co-exist in Starck’s designs — and it’s precisely these principles that distinguish the Ipanema + Starck collection.

Made in Brazil, Ipanema sandals capture the laid-back, beach-ready vibe of Rio de Janeiro but, moreover, the brand’s ethos is built on a devotion to eco-friendly practices, with shoes manufactured using a malleable 100% recyclable plastic dubbed Flexpand and 99% of all factory waste being recycled or reused. As an eco-minded designer, Starck must surely have been drawn to Ipanema’s commitment to environmentally sound manufacturing practices.

The Ipanema + Starck collection, then, consists of four simple and colorful sandal styles, each available in an array of color combinations — some monochromatic and others featuring pops of citrus-y yellow, green, or coral. The Ipanema + Philippe Starck Thing U Sandal ($35 at IpanemaUSA.com) , pictured first and second above, is available in 12 color combinations and features a tubular strap along the vamp to secure the foot in place and a simple oversize button-shaped tab meant to function like a thong sandal tab. The lack of straps extending from the toe to the vamp, however, give the sandal a rather distinctive feel.

Those who enjoy thong sandals but hate the cracked heels that often result from wearing these open-back styles for long periods of time will appreciate the Thing N sandal ($40 at IpanemaUSA.com), pictured third and fourth above in two of the 12 colorways, which features the traditional “V” shaped straps of a thong sandal but fuses those with the heel counter you’d find on a ballet flat.

The collection also includes a flip-flop design, the Thing M ($40 at IpanemaUSA.com), shown fifth and sixth above, but even this simple silhouette is reinvented via the tiniest of details: whereas most flip-flops feature straps that are attached to the sides of their rubber outsoles, the thinner translucent straps on the Thing M extend all the way to the back of the shoe, hugging the rear portion of the outsole.

Gladiator sandal lovers, meanwhile, will appreciate the overlapping straps in the Thing G sandal ($38  at IpanemaUSA.com) shown last above, which create a web-like lattice reminiscent of most gladiator sandals. Instead of pesky laces of buckled straps, however, the Thing G features a strap that wraps the back of the ankle, allowing for easy on-and-off.

As you can see, all the sandals are clean and unfussy, so that its the small details, the streamlined silhouettes, and the duality of the unexpected color combinations that really creates a major wow factor. My favorites: the Thing U Sandals in black and white pictured at top. Come spring, the thing U sandals and I may just have a thing going on!

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