TEXT BY NATALIE YIASSOUMI
There was plenty to take in from Valentino’s combat boots, to Balenciaga’s neon thigh-high numbers and Malone Souliers’ new lavish materials.
Fashion month came to an end with Paris Fashion Week as the big closing act.
Given the city’s abundance of mega brands, there was plenty to take in and brands went the extra mile to up the luxury ante across all categories – footwear included.
The week started off with Christian Dior, where Maria Grazia Chiuri continued her feminist narrative with a collection that was all about down-to-earth, fuss-free pieces that allow freedom of movement. Shoes played a big role in this, as Chiuri has always been an advocate of comfort-first in her footwear collections. For fall she offered chunky combat boots and more feminine Mary Janes, all paired with grungy fishnet socks that are bound to be a hit combination come next fall.
Dries van Noten was another designer that set things off to a great start. He dreamt up the wardrobe of a party girl, the kind who dresses to be noticed and isn’t afraid to clash prints and textures, dye her hair blue or wear high platform boots in bright shades of python. The boots were paired with decadent florals and brocades to create a look brimming with confidence.
Boots were in fact the big story of the season and came in many different shapes and forms: from military styles to Wellington boots and sexy thigh-high ones.
Buyers were already placing big mental orders when Valentino sent out its ‘V’ logo combat boots down the catwalk, adding a cooler touch to the dreamy maxi gowns in the collection.
At Balmain, Saint Laurent and Balenciaga on the other hand it was all about bringing sexy back with more daring thigh-high styles: Olivier Rousteing served patent leather versions to add his signature glam touch on the more muted, cozy looks he opened the Balmain show with; at Saint Laurent there were skin-tight vinyl versions worn with everything from pencil skirts to culottes and at Balenciaga, man-of-the-hour Demna Gvasalia offered neon thigh high sock boots, adding a flash of color in the label’s dark, post-apocalyptic collection that was presented on a water-immersed runway.
To top it all off, Chanel dressed its tweed girl gang in cool brown and black folded boots featuring easy-going block heels.
Boots aside, Chloé also stood out with its new take on the loafer, that came with a chunky block heel. So did Loewe, where Jonathan Anderson was in a “dress up mood” and offered sleek kitten-heeled pumps featuring large crystal brooches that nodded to the house’s Spanish roots.
Outside the catwalks, footwear designers were scattered around Paris to present their collections in more intimate settings. The spotlight was very much on Christian Louboutin throughout the week, following the opening of his landmark new exhibition. He didn’t disappoint as he reworked some of his famous signatures, from the Pigalles to the Hot Chick, in lower, more comfortable heel heights to respond to women’s current needs. He also offered new platform styles, featuring cool macramé and technical mesh fabric panels or slingback heels with watercolor prints splashed all over.
Malone Souliers is another household name that expanded its repertoire with more lavish materials, from feather-embellished tweed boots to loud elaphe pink ones. There was also a focus on more practical day wear styles, from combat boots to loafers, reflecting some of the style’s from the brand’s newly launched men’s line.
When it came to younger names, Wandler remains one of the most exciting new brands out there. Amsterdam-based Elza Wandler was one of the first to experiment with square toes, before even Daniel Lee at Bottega Veneta gave the trend global appeal. She’s still playing with new colors on her popular square-toe mules but also offering new chunky round-toe mules and boots, including a bold, thigh-high slouchy version. Rumour has it that Rihanna already has her eye on that one.
“We’re not cancelling the square toe completely, but it was time for a new proposition,” said Wandler.
Other names to note include Nodaleto, which is gaining steam with its chunky block-heel boots and Mary Janes that Mytheresa.com is now buying into deeply. This season they even turned their signature boot into a ceramic vase, in collaboration with jewelry and interiors designer Anissa Kermische. However when it came to boots, Brazilian footwear designer Alexandre Birman took the cake by presenting a pair crystal boots that is said to retail at $12,000.
Mach & Mach is another brand new and attention-worthy name: The label, which is designed by Tbilisi-based sister duo Nina and Gvantsa Macharashvilli debuted a line of playful and highly photogenic footwear for fall filled with crystal bows, lavish velvet fabrics and pearls. A square-toe metallic silver sandal or a PVC pump featuring pearl straps were among the highlights – and made for the perfect companion to the brand’s sparkly ready-to-wear that has been gaining popularity with both the Instagram set and big retailers like Moda Operandi.
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