It’s been said that the “It” bag has been replaced by the “It” shoe, and at no other time was this more apparent than in the last two years of fashion. Last year, fashion houses gave us shoes that made everyone gasp and gape at the architectural—sometimes bordering on precarious and incredulous—silhouettes. Remember Marc Jacob’s misplaced heel? Or Balenciaga’s thigh-high gladiator sandals? We rest our case.
Ever since Miuccia Prada boldly proclaimed one of her most quotable quotes—you know, the one that spelled doom for many a coveted luxury handbags; “The obsession with handbags has finished a little now. It feels over. It’s about shoes now.”—designers seemed to have taken this as the license to frill. Yes, frill. As in extravagant, ornate shoe designs that, like in the case of Mr. Jacob’s gravity-defying shoes, are not necessarily the smartest, most practical options for our feet—but which we lust for anyway.
This fascination with frills, OTT embellishments and sculptural silhouettes on footwear was visibly sustained in the Fall/ Winter 2009 collections. This season, it was all about the boot. Thigh-high, ankle and bootie; leather, suede, studded and zipped. The season also showed—quite literally—fancy footwear, with extravagant add-ons like crystal-and-gold bows, stingray-print heels, lizard skin and studs on velvet.
Take a look at some of the statement shoes from the fall runways.
Marc Jacobs Metallic Leather Ankle Boots
Marc Jacobs has managed to resurrect something we’ve long considered dead in the fashion world: clogs. This deliciously off-beat boot-slash- clog features metallic leather, black suede ankle strap and a black four-inch heel with one-inch platform and eyelet details around it. How Jacobs managed to glamorize clogs is another testament to this maverick’s talent and undeniable appeal. He always makes us believe that trends don’t come and go. They always manage to make a comeback.
Nicholas Kirkwood Lizard and Suede Bootie
Now here’s a name that has sent everyone buzzing the last couple of seasons: Nicholas Kirkwood. You’ll immediately recognize a Nicholas Kirkwood creation when you see one; the vertiginous sculpted heels, the extravagant embellishments, rich materials, and, most notably, the slanted platform on the sole. This lizard and suede bootie features a 5.5-inch sculpted heel with his trademark one-inch slanted platform, but the real magic is in his uncanny ability to mix the most indulgent materials—in this case, lizard skin and suede. Also worth noting is Kirkwood’s work for Rodarte: bondage-inspired thigh-high boots.
Burberry Prorsum Leather Platform Pumps
We never thought we’d see the day when rubber heels will walk the couture runways. Never say never. Burberry Prorsum delighted the no-nonsense sensibilities of some fashionistas with their leather platform pumps with a black coated rubber heel. The same rubber heel was also on the fashion house’s leather and wood sandals and leather ankle boots. But then fashion cannot be this basic, can it? As if to assuage the utilitarian feel of their pumps, Burberry made sure to bring in big numbers: 5.5-inch curved heel with a two-inch platform. How’s that for a standout shoe?
Yves Saint Laurent Divine Peep-Toe Platforms
YSL’s Divine peep-toe platforms give new dimensions to the stiletto heel. The pencil-shaped heel measures 4.5 inches (with a one-inch platform). All eyes are on this dagger heel, especially with the stingray-print trim surrounding it (and the platform). Black suede upper and elasticated straps hug the feet in a snug fit—in anticipation perhaps of the slightly shaky ground born from this pencil heel.
Charlotte Olympia Ziggy Leather and Suede Ankle Boots
A new name in the shoe couture game is this London all-around “It” girl and designer, Charlotte Olympia. You may recognize her from society pages and party photos, and this hip, quirky, but so spot-on trendy vibe is exactly what she brings to her shoe designs. The Ziggy leather ankle boot has a patent ridged 5.5-inch heel and one-inch gold platform—a very modern Studio 54 take on ankle boots. A black leather and suede mix on the upper gives an interesting play on textures, while the zip fastening at the back features an unexpected but very sexy tassel.
Stella McCartney Perforated Thigh-High Boots
Stella McCartney’s anti-leather stance did not stop this PETA advocate from unleashing fierce footwear. How else would you describe this faux leather masterpiece that skims the entire legs? Perforation details, gunmetal sculpted 4.5-inch metal heel and .5-inch metal platform, square toe with metal trim, and stitch trim all add up to the unmistakable fierceness. Wear this pair with a coat or dress and you’re literally the cat’s meow.
John Galliano Lace-up Wooden Platform Pumps
John Galliano had some of the most interesting and visually stimulating shoe designs this season. The sky-high wooden platform pumps with six-inch (or i s it seven?) heels and one- to two-inch platforms remind one of those tricky geisha sandals. The lace-up details plus the pom-pom accent on toe make this shoe classic Galliano: bold, decidedly offbeat and beautiful. Another must-see is his towering wedge sandal, with its Oriental print—again, classic Galliano.
Balmain Suede Zipped Ankle Boots
After immortalizing the power shoulders with their now iconic jacket, Balmain is bringing in power shoes—and it’s just as provocative and statement-making. Black suede ankle boots have cross-over multistraps with silver zipper detailing. Almond toe and 4.5-inch heel with one- inch concealed platform add a feminine silhouette to these boots’ otherwise rebel yell aesthetic.
Chloe Bow-Embellished Suede Caged Pumps
If we were to find the anti-thesis to the Balmain boots, this would be it. These ankle-high black suede pumps have cutout cage details. But the crystal and gold bow embellishments, crystal studs between each bow, and pointed toe detail are feminine style updates to the caged heel (popularized by YSL). This pair is sweetness and spice epitomized. Zip-fastening at the back keeps the sweetness in check, while 4-inch heels give you the height you crave for.
Prada Studded Velvet Platform Sandal
It seems only fitting that we round off the list with Prada’s studded velvet platform sandal. The runways were replete with studs this season, and Prada had one of the best interpretations of this big fall trend. The whole shoe is dotted with studs—from the five-inch heel and one-inch platform, to the ankle strap and upper. Also creating much buzz in the Prada collection is the brand’s seeming homage to the Trojan hat: a velvet embroidered heel with fringe details that mimic the famous gladiator headpiece— and lots of hardware in the form of studs.Yet again, Miuccia Prada has made a bold statement.