As far as girl crushes go, Hannah Rochell ranks pretty highly on my list. Fashion Features Editor at InStyle by day, blogger by night, what makes Hannah stand out from the fash-pack is her hatred of heels. Taking a stand against the cult of Loubatains and hulk-smashing the tedious myth that only heels can be truly stylish, Hannah has spent years championing the flat shoe through her wonderful blog, En Brogue.
Style might be at the top of my agenda but wearing shoes that render me incapable of moving around is not, and if I hear another male designer who’s never worn a stiletto in life preach to his cliental that women simply look better in heels, I might scream. It’s all about brogues, not Blanhiks, and if anyone understands that, it’s Hannah Rochell. In her debut En Brogue book Hannah took us on whistle-stop tour of iconic flats, from ballet pumps to brogues, riding boots to sliders, making our wardrobes ache for rows and rows of carefully curated flats in every style, colour and embellishment we could imagine. Like Hannah, I’d rather have my shoe rack aching from an abundance of shoes than my feet aching after an evening in heels, and her gorgeously illustrated homage to the not-so-humble-flat was one of my favourite fashion reads of 2014. Now in her second book Hannah brings us a unapolgetcially joyous style celebration of the shoe of the moment, the trainer.
From Converse to couture, Clarks to collectors items, En Brogue: The Trainers Guide celebrates streetwear’s favourite shoe in all its forms. Whether you’re a self-styled streetwear guru or a Liberty print lover, whether you wear trainers for style or for sport, a brogue girl or – dare I say it – stiletto clad siren, the Trainer’s Guide sings to the wide-eyed shoe lover in all of us. From the author’s first pair of Converse (purple, and purchased aged 12) to her Britpop Reeboks, trusty Nike Air Huaraches and obligatory fashion-editor Stan Smiths, The Trainers Guide is as much a stroll through Hannah’s personal shoe history as it is a celebration of the shoes themselves. Like En Brogue before it, The Trainer’s Guide is a cheeky mixture of footwear history, shoe facts and tongue-in-cheek observations interwoven with Hannah’s own footwear anecdotes. With its iPhone-shot photos (according to Hannah an interesting floor is the secret to a good shoefie) and gorgeous illustrations, all by the author herself, every beautifully conceived page is tinged with a palpable sense of sheer joy. This is no style-by-numbers guide, this is a celebration of the trainers that the author genuinely loves and the stories behind the shoes themselves.
Corsets have no been dismissed as unpalatably archaic, but heels are still enforced as a key component of the average black tie dress code. But what’s sexy about watching a girl shuffle around in a five inch heel that makes her walk like a deer on ice, looking on at the dance floor from a leaning perch or the rare commodity of a chair in a nightclub? But a girl in a pair of trainers, styling herself to perfection and moving her body without restriction? That’s stylish, that’s sexy, that’s En Brogue.