By now everyone knows the shoe. The moment a woman kicks her foot to cross her legs, the crimson sole acts as the dead giveaway. It's a Christian Louboutin, of course. We can see the designer's loopy signature and all. But, can we pronounce his name?
If you think the last syllable of Louboutin rhymes with sin than consider yourself a sinner -- in the fashion kingdom, at least. It should actually come out sounding more like "on." Say it with me, "Loo-boo-tahn." Now record yourself saying it and play it on repeat until you can answer the question, "Who designed the shoes you're wearing?" without embarrassing yourself.
Some women cringe at the sight of exposed thong strings. Others don't trust themselves in the same room with toes that hang over sandal edges. I, on the other hand, can't bear the sound of a mangled name. Why? Check the byline of this story. For everyone who prefers "taking a stab at it" over just asking, you should know that most massacres begin with just a single stab.
To clarify, Xazmin is Spanish for Jasmine and pronounced "Haws-mean." Call me Yasmine, Jasmine or "Zaz-min" more than three times and you'll quickly get the "mean" part down.
But, I'm not a famous fashion designer. Hearing strangers rape my name is like 10 shiny-haired heads turning when the name Jennifer is shouted in public. It's expected. To slaughter the name of someone whose work you covet, however, is a much different offense. I mean, if you can nail the name Schwarzenegger than you should have no problem with Hermès. Sorry, but it doesn't sound anything like the STD with a similar spelling. Rather, the "H" is silent and the end rhymes with Pez. Together now: "Air-mez." Five fashion demerits for erring this one. Fifty if you're on an Hermés waiting list.
Keep in mind when attempting a designer name that it probably wasn't conceived in Nampa, Idaho. For instance, Giuseppe Zanotti touts that all his shoes are "made in the hills of Italy." Guess where the designer's from? That's right, Italy, so you probably don't want to sound it out using the method learned in first grade. With this one, it's the last name most fashion fledglings screw up. Although the George Clooney lookalike may very well inspire naughty thoughts, Zanotti doesn't contain the word "naughty." It's "Zah-no-tee."
On the other side of the coin you have the names that look like a cinch but always inspire a "Say what?!" Givenchy doesn't rhyme with DaVinci. One's French, the other Italian. The first syllable makes the same sound as the "Zs" in Zsa Zsa Gabor. "Zsee-von-shee." You get a pass on that one, but don't cancel it out by trying to turn a familiar name into something chi-chi. Donna Karan's last name doesn't have anything in common with the Muslim holy text. It sounds just as if it were spelled K-A-R-E-N. Likewise, Ralph Lauren has no relation to the actress Sofia Loren so please refrain from throwing the fancy accent on the last syllable. It's like lifting a pinky finger while guzzling a can of beer.
Need further encouragement to learn and remember these names? Let's go back to the scene in "Showgirls" when Elizabeth Berkley's naive, starry-eyed character shamelessly brags about her new Vur-Sayce dress. Yeah, that's what you look like every time you screw up the following: Hervè Lèger ("Air-vay Lay-zseh"); Lanvin ("Lon-von"); Moschino ("Mo-skeeno"); and Proenza Schouler ("Pro-enza Skool-er").
Please, if not to preserve your reputation as a true fashion connoisseur, do it for the designers you respect and admire. Say it right or don't say it at all.