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Those Maglis Were No Star

June 21, 1995|ROSE-MARIE TURK | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The Lorenz, Bruno Magli's demi-boot with the distinctive rubber sole, might be an outstanding piece of evidence in the O.J. Simpson trial, but it was a retail loser.

Magli (the G is silent) introduced the heavy-soled, casual footwear in 1990 and dropped it in 1992. "Everything we know about that shoe was turned over to the authorities," a company representative said Tuesday. "It's just a discontinued shoe to us."

Bruno Maglis, known for fitting quite narrow in the heel and wider in the front, are more than expensive (average price $200) hand-made footwear for men and women. They are status symbols in a class with Mercedes-Benzes and Chanel suits. (In a recent letter to the editor of The Times, a Fountain Valley reader railed against "the abominable, Armani-breasted, Bruno Magli-toed developer's mouthpiece" in defending the endangered gnatcatcher.)

Novelist Sara Paretsky's fictional detective, V.I. Warshawski, confesses that Bruno Magli shoes are her one nod to vanity. "They bring me luck, my red Magli pumps," says Warshawski in "Tunnel Vision" (Dell, 1994).

In the same paragraph, Paretsky only vaguely describes Warshawski's clothes but rhapsodizes about those pumps. "You can see where the leather has become frail with age," she writes. "I tend them anxiously, with polish and waterproofing, new soles and heel tips: To replace them would take almost a month of rent money."

Bruno Magli, who started the company in Bologna, Italy, in 1936, died a decade ago. His cousins now run it.

The trial testimony Monday has spawned at least one peculiar incident. A San Francisco television reporter was shooed away from the Union Square Magli store Tuesday after proposing that every male passerby try on a pair of Size 12 shoes.

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