WORDS BY NATALIE YIASSOUMI
Parisian designers threw conventions out the window, focusing on comfort first.
As fashion month comes to an end, designers’s mood for the upcoming season is clear: No-fuss and extra comfort.
Nowhere has this been more evident than in the shoe department, where all conventions of what makes women’s shoes desirable have flown out the window during this Paris Fashion Week. Cue flip flops, sneakers, clunky flats and slides in all shapes and forms: There will be no such thing as an ugly or informal shoe for spring 2021. On that note, and the clog is back, too.
It all started at Dior, where Maria Grazia Chiuri paired her bohemian maxi dresses with simple rope flat sandals, taking her feminist agenda even further and highlighting the need for movement and comfort, even when it comes to high-glamour, evening looks. Natasha Ramsay Levi channeled a similar feel at Chloé, as she paired her casual, breezy looks with the same flat gladiator-style sandal, that came in a variation of earthy tones.
Things got a little more experimental from then on: The wooden clog made an appearance as the traditional (but chic) garden shoe at Hermès, matching the models skin tones and and overall signature tonal vibe. Louis Vuitton debuted a range of shoes – from a heeled, chunky pump with subtle clog references. But what really got people talking was the padded sock-like, duvet boots which was an unexpected choice for a spring-summer shoe.
At Balenciaga – which skipped the runway in favor of a moody film showcasing masked models walking around a dark and gloomy Paris – the brand’s signature knife heeled boots gave way to an array of fluffy terry slides that were paired with everything from metallic mini dresses to oversized tracksuits and knits that could double as pyjamas.
Jonathan Anderson also spoke about the need to throw away traditional conventions of beauty and “make the ugly pretty and the pretty ugly,” which is why he attached asymmetric leather panels on the backs of elegant black pumps or created softer, scrunched up versions of the traditional leather loafer at Loewe.
But the main talk of Paris Fashion week was Givenchy, where designer and Kanye West protegé Matthew Williams made his debut as the house’s creative director. He too was fully on board with the ugly shoe trend: In fact he took things to a whole new level, presenting chunky slides like many of his peers but also an array of unconventional heels, from pumps featuring curved heels in the shape of horns or reptilian tales, to stiletto sandals which came with three front loops to go around the toes and open-toe platform sneakers. It remains to be seen whether his directional, and at times twisted, vision for the French couture house will catch and make his eccentric horn heels the next big thing.
Miu Miu, which closed Paris Fashion Week Tuesday night, also made a statement with its footwear choices for the new season: Taking the sporty kitten heels she presented during Milan Fashion Week a step further, Miuccia Prada merged the two styles in a more literal way, adding kitten heels on bright neon sneakers. The over-all futuristic collection also included logo and embellished silver sandals.
For the less experimental, there was also Chanel which presented simply no-fuss brogues and strappy flat sandals for its Hollywood-themed show or Isabel Marant, who wanted to send an optimist message with a runway-turned-disco and an array of party shoes included stilettos and her signature cone-shaped cowboy boots, reimagined in Eighties-inspired metallic hues.
As for footwear brands – who presented their collections a little more quietly via online films and digital showrooms – they also offered plenty to take in and a similar focus on comfort-first.
Malone Souliers for one made a point to create a collection with as little waste as possible, making use of leftover leathers or archival fabrics like linens or denim and focusing on signature silhouettes and flats galore, including chic leather slides featuring hardware in the shape of the brand’s logo.
Elza Wandler also focused on her greatest hits including modernist square-toe pumps, mules and ankle boots, done in bold colors from turquoise to lime green, to inject a dose of positivity, while Nodaleto reworked its signature block heel into shorter lengths and added fun feather embellishments for some sandal variations.
Paris-based Bettina Vermillon debuted a new collection with the jewelry label Timeless Pearly filled with cool square-toe mules and sandals featuring glossy leathers, the brand’s signature aluminum heels and gold, jewel-like embellishments. The brand is also offering a new made-to-order service where customers can pick a style of shoe of their choice – from winter boots to strappy sandals – and pick a heel to customize them from the label’s wide offer, which cover every color of the rainbow and all imaginable height options.
Beirut-based designer Andrea Wazen also stood out this season: Having seen her store destroyed after the Beirut blasts she decided to pay homage to her city with her spring 2021 collection. Inspired by the now-destroyed architecture of the Lebanese capital, Wazen sprinkled bright color and added embroideries on mesh thong sandals, referencing the shapes seen on some of the buildings of Beirut.
“I’m doing whatever I can to keep my brand in Beirut and show the world what we are capable of,” said Wazen.
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