With the spring season silenced, the Grand M is keen on throwing herself feet-first into the fantastic onslaught of summer sandals. Designers are ripe with eager yet age-old ideas and brilliant motifs, fashioning impeccably turned-out turn-outs reflective of a more modern, thoughtful, and mature design frame of mind. Flip-flops and espadrilles are so five years ago. The 2009 sandal draws heavily on the gladiator trend of winter and fall, bringing a refreshingly updated take on a cold weather staple to open-toed perfection. The twist lends a wise air to this summer’s sandals, demonstrating an abiding love of style and cool-headed know-how that unavoidably surfaces in toe-thongs, earthy brown hues, and historically-minded details (think Homer, Virgil, Ovid) displayed in perennially human, functional forms and eco-inspired flourishes. Drumroll please…

Easily the Grand M’s favorite this season, the GwynethZola‘ is an oasis in a desert of bad sandal memories, effortlessly restoring the multi-colored bead to new life and respectability among the footwear elite. The sumptuous sandalwood suede upper cascades in gentle blooms along a sturdy T-strap, each fold trimmed in charming, elementary school beads. A typically hokey-pokey, unsophisticated embellishment finds itself at home on the ‘Zola‘, and it makes the Grand M wonder what the uproarious outcry against Crayola-colored beading a few years back was all about.

For an edgier look, the Grand M raves about Chie Mihara’s summer collection of finely-crafted, off-beat, elegant sandals. The ‘Miosen‘ delivers on Mihara’s luxurious promise to perfection, combining a serious-minded, oiled amber leather ankle wrap with playful, huarache-esque scissoring, contrast stitching, and oversized jewel atop the vamp’s apex. This is a fashion veteran’s sandal, offering the best of what’s been in delightful conjunction with the best of what is. The Grand M intends to pair her pair with light, white tanks and slim denim capris in an assortment of washed-out watercolor hues.

To wear with everything, the Grand M is sticking with 80%20’s whimsical ‘Millie‘, ideal for everyday wear and decidedly female in form. The cut-out leather leaves and tri-buckled, ankle-hugging upper seamlessly blends the rough and tumble mold of a gladiator with elfin delicacy and measured confidence. The ‘Millie‘ rides the fence between casual and dressy, offering a perfect choice for those in-between ensembles and guaranteeing a generous handful of compliments from passers-by. The undertone of each sandal picked here is subtlety and a return to style simplicity – a welcome gesture after towering platforms, grotesquely contorted, futuristic wedges, and ho-hum, boring basic flats, inspiring the Grand M to be sandalled by irony and wit in 2009.

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