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May 3-9, 2006

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2006 Spring Fashion Issue
Growing up at Parsons Paris | Sonoma County designers shine at Moxie | Healdsburg and the Mona Lisa? | Take Jeff Koons and Rei Kawakubo, please | Dressing for Sonoma County's cyclocross and a date

Mona Lisa

That old bag: The woman whose mood has always been uncertain has a new type of fame.


La Gioconda, coming to a shoe store near you

By Cary Barker

She's everywhere. Walk by a bookstore, and her eyes follow. Turn on the TV, hear her name. Flip through a magazine, see her picture. But where was she 30 years ago? Or even 20 years ago? Not in pop culture, not on the cover of a mystery novel or a fashion magazine, but roped off and kept safe in the Louvre.

Only 31 by 21 inches in size, a small oil painting on a poplar wood panel has fascinated the world for more than 500 years. People have admired this painting for its uniqueness and the new techniques artist Leonardo da Vinci introduced to the world.

Painted between 1503 and 1505, da Vinci's Mona Lisa is, of course, also the face fronting the bestselling novel The Da Vinci Code, the major motion picture with the same title. Dan Brown's mystery novel sparked a worldwide religious debate when it was release in 2003. Now it has sparked interest in Hollywood and other pop-culture media. The woman whose mood has always been uncertain has a new type of fame and a new place in history.

Indeed, eBay boasts over 2,000 items with the Mona Lisa plastered on them, including such appropriate mountings as greeting cards, postcards, mouse pads, ties, mugs, shirts and clocks. And now, women also will be able to continue to exploit La Gioconda's life on their feet.

Clog, boot, flat, mule, wedge. Icon, a luxury fashion brand, has produced five different styles of footwear to complement any woman's wardrobe the Mona Lisa way, in a new line launching this month. The sexy three-inch mule features a leather-bound La Gioconda for the fun-loving party girl or urban sophisticate. The midcalf boot will satisfy the inner Westerner with its interchangeable strap featuring multiple Ms. Lisa's.

For the retro at heart, the soft suede wedge has Mona's face printed on the insole with a stamplike patch on the side. The peep-toe wooden clog with an Andy Warholesque screen of the mysterious lady completes the modern-day hipster's wardrobe. Finally, for anyone who travels, or is looking for the most comfort, Mona-adorned ballet flats fold in half, making a perfect fit for overstuffed suitcases.

Icon spokesperson Amanda Sheronas attempts to make sense of it all. "I think people respond to wearble art pieces because it brings them that much closer to feeling like they can own a masterpiece," she says in an e-mail interview. "It also allows one to remember a certain work and specific place in time (fond memory) rather than just through a photograph, postcard or print. As symbolic of the label's name, people gravitate toward their icons and want to emulate them. Fashion and art meet here."

Sheronas hastens to remind that the Mona isn't just for footwear. She can also be found on purses and what Sheronas terms "small leather accessories." And she certainly isn't alone. Icon reprints images by some 40 (dead) artists, including van Gogh, Modigliani, Degas, Hopper and Klimt. "Like a real masterpiece," Sheronas assures, "it stays in one's collection and becomes a timeless keepsake."

Whether in print or as print, the portrait's identity and what makes her special is still debated. Some believe she is Lisa Gherardini, the wife of Francesco del Giocondo. Others theorize the painting is an androgynous self-portrait due to the similarities between da Vinci and the Mona Lisa's facial features. Regardless, thanks to Dan Brown's tweed jacket, Tom Hanks' hair, Ron Howard's direction, Sony Pictures' hopes of salvation at the box office and Icon's new shoes, the Mona Lisa's popularity has been renewed. The debate over her, her master and secret societies will continue for years.

Clutch in Healdsburg carries the Icon line but doesn't yet have da Mona in da house. 307 Healdsburg Ave., Healdsburg. 707.433.8189.

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