The humble Mary Jane shoes keep pace with fashion’s whims

“When I wear my Mary Jane’s shoes/ I can escape from a blues/ The whole world seems a little bit brighter, brighter/ My heavy steps get a little bit lighter, lighter… Wooh my Mary Jane’s.”

Not something you’d expect to hear from Fergie. The low-cut, inset strap shoes, flat or block-heeled, were named after the comic strip character that Richard Felton Outcault created for “Buster Brown” in 1902 (and not Peter Parker’s red-haired love, Mary Jane Watson).

The nerdy shoes, originally associated with school kids, later entered older wardrobes due to their inherent Lolita-esque vibe that also made them a part of punk culture. In fashion, Mary Jane shoes have found interpretations in labels like Fendi, Manolo Blahnik (the ‘Campari’) and Jimmy Choo (‘Kindle’) or even clean-with-shampoo-and-toothbrush Crocs. Mary Janes are also the shoes of choice for Flamenco dancers who can’t afford to fling their footwear onto unsuspecting spectators but still need the click-and-clack. Prada Autumn/ Winter 2012 was heavy on Mary Jane shows. The recently concluded Fall/ Winter 2013-14 shows, too, saw Mary Janes in several forms.

While golden-stap Mary Jane shoes worn under polka-dot dresses and over striped tights kept the nostalgia theme going at Miu Miu, at Anna Sui they kept pace with the patterned tights and burst of colour. They were simple at John Rocha, and Mary-Antoinette-goes-to-school at Moschino Cheap and Chic. At Rochas they came with inward sloping heels, while at Carven they came with tyre-tough soles. Dolce & Gabbana kept things flat and simple.