Whenever I see a pair of Mary Jane shoes, I wonder about the girl they’re named after. Where is she now? What would she think of her namesake footwear today?
Apparently, the original Mary Jane was a character created by the American cartoonist Richard Felton Outcault for his comic strip “Buster Brown” in 1902. She was Mr. Brown’s “sweetheart,” based on Outcault’s own daughter of the same name. She wore little black Mary Jane shoes with a strap across the front, and when Outcault later licensed her character to Brown Shoe Company, the name stuck. They’ve been seen as a sort of innocent, childish style ever since.
Recently, Mary Janes have made a comeback on the runway — they just so happen to be a perfect WFH slipper-shoe — but Celine’s platform-pump version is far from childish. With a thick platform heel and gold buckles, they’d look more at home in the basement of a nightclub than in a lighthearted Sunday comic strip. Mary Jane, it seems, contains multitudes.
Celine Melody tri-buckle patent leather Mary Jane pump, $970 at celine.com.