I remember seeing Alicia Keys perform on the Jonathan Ross Show a few weeks ago and thinking, much to my disappointment, “what a sell-out”. The transformation from the husky, corn-row-sporting R&B best-seller to a generic pop grand-dame with a sleek bob was rather depressing, to say the least. There was something distinctly cringe-worthy about her trying (and failing) to appear young and relevant, having clearly reached her prime a few years back. I realise that this sounds rather harsh, but I only say it because this sense of Keys having already hit her stride can also be transferred to her latest footwear collaboration with Reebok.
The Alicia Keys for Reebok range varies from the ugly to the downright bizarre. Whilst I appreciate that Reebok markets itself as a brand which sells running shoes, as opposed to focussing purely on the aesthetic side of design, the Alicia Keys range couldn’t be more of an eyesore if she tried. I say “she” realising that Keys probably didn’t design the shoes herself – I imagine it was more a case of putting her name to them – but my only wish is that she’d been a bit more selective in terms of which designs made the final cut.
Let’s start with the Princess trainer. The shoe itself is reminiscent in style of the black Reebok Classic (i.e. pretty damn ugly), and the slap-dash addition of sporadic spikes and studs to the heel counter is just plain wrong. The shoe possesses anything but the “rocker vibe” that Reebok describes, and even if it did, it’s not as if Alicia Keys is a rock musician, so I don’t exactly get the relevance of this statement.
Exhibit B is the Freestyle Hi Dubble Bubble which, I imagine, would make the wearer look as if they were sporting ankle braces or some other correctional device. Vintage-treated suede is wasted on this wannabe-futuristic trainer-cum-moon-boot, and the aubergine/grey/citron/black colour scheme is horrid to behold.
The alarming combination of aubergine and citron is carried on into the Classic Nylon Slim. However, whereas in the Dubble Bubble the splashes of colour were subtle, the Classic Nylon Slim is painfully full-on. Aside from the colour-clashing, the shoe itself is totally unoriginal in design; one hardly bats an eye, and would never look at it and think “Alicia Keys”.
…aesthetically, conceptually and because they have something to do with Alicia keys…
In fact, the only pair of trainers in the whole range that is identifiable with Alicia Keys is the Freestyle Hi, featuring a graffiti-style keyboard on the heel counter, mirrored by a city skyline silhouette against a gold backdrop on the hi-top collar. These are actually pretty cool – aesthetically, conceptually and because they have something to do with Alicia keys (apparently, the rest of the trainers are only linked to her by their inclusion of an Alicia Keys logo on the sole in purple, her favourite colour). It’s not really surprising, then, that she chose to wear this pair in all the adverts for her new range – lord knows I’d be too embarrassed to wear any other!