I hope I don’t sound uncommitted to the name of this blog when I say I haven’t really been into looking at new shoes lately. It seems that shoe design, for the large part, has hit a period of stagnation over the last few years. Shoes rarely inspire the kind of frenzied enthusiasm and discussion that say, the Balenciaga lego heels of spring 2008 once did. Maybe the Bottega tread boots and square toe mules are a slight exception to the rule.
It seems that shoes have gotten less complicated, less challenging, and more practical for the last decade. There is a time and place for the sleek and minimal shoes that populate Net-a-Porter’s new arrival section, and I would be glad to have, for instance, a pair of the By Far mules that seem to be selling so well. But I think I’m not alone, between us shoe lovers, when I say that it feels good to wear shoes that are not sensible, maybe even shoes that are a bit ugly. I want shoes that serve the purpose of fashion, not the purpose of function.
Where have the fashion shoes gone? Feel free to laugh at me, but when I walk by displays of designer shoes and see row after row of expensive but plain ankle boots and sensible pumps, I feel my heart sink. What is the point of luxury if it isn’t exciting? This is not an urgent problem in this big sad world, to be sure. But it seems symptomatic of something to me. Shoes are huge emotional touch point of fashion. The 2000’s were a period of fashion marked by very exciting shoes. The Prada Wellington boots of fall 2009 that were in such high demand that stylists actually fought over them, the iconic Balenciaga fall 2006 boots made memorable by Mary Kate Olsen practically defined the decade. Those were fashion shoes. These days a lot of designers are showing flip flops, and soft leather slides. The stylists of the Kardashians have made buzzy designer sneakers and barely-there PVC sandals the go-to shoes for the celebrity-conscious. And I say all of that is fine, with the addendum of “sometimes”.
I was hovering around the shoe section of a department store one day, barely motivated to even take a peek at the offerings. That’s a sign of dire times for a shoe enthusiast! I gave the room a once-over. I saw a lot of pumps with gaudy embellishments (trying to hide the fact that they were just plain old pumps). I saw many boring boots with loud logos. And then in the back…something black and shiny caught my eye. They were glorious black patent, with a square toe and a tall platform I might even describe as meaty. And yet on closer inspection of this hefty square toe shoe, I found a delicate t-strap that called to mind film noir vixens of the 1940s. The combination of fat platform, skinny straps, and shiny black leather had me entranced. Naturally, the shoe that had me captivated was Prada. I took the shoe off the display and set it on a red velvet couch nearby, admiring it’s contours and heft from every angle.
I wasn’t about to leave behind a pair of shoes that captured my heart after such a long time being out in the cold. I love them very much. They are absolutely impractical and glamorous, and that is all I want in a shoe sometimes. I’ve always considered myself a Prada girl at heart and I have spent the last few months obsessing over the 90s and early 00s Prada archive (all accessible on their website if you wanted to know) and these shoes are absolutely in keeping with so many of those wonderful collections of the past. I have loads of inspiration to wear these now! No regrets.
You can get these shoes at Saks Fifth Avenue, and they run true to size.
Kaelen | Darling Marcelle says
YES! I totally agree. There’s a time and place for practical shoes, but I am a big fan of fashion being fun. Because otherwise, what’s the point? I want more ridiculous clothes, shoes and jewelry because it makes me happy. I have fun when I wear fun things.
xoKaelen | https://darlingmarcelle.com
Exactly! Great minds… :)
I totally agree with you. I have visited your blog many times over the past years, because I love your fashion and I think your shoes have been pretty fabulous too.
I used to buy lots of shoes, and I also was a real Prada girl! I will never forget the Prada dark grey Platform sling-back heels in real alligator, no less, that are languishing in a box upstairs. I found them in the end of season Neiman Marcus sale and I absolutely fell in love!!!
And then, how about the black Fendi shoes with chunky bright yellow heels? I forgot I had even bought them and found them by accident in my closet a few weeks ago.
I don’t have anyplace to wear these now and I am getting to be the age that high heels may endanger my health.
Eugh it’s so true. I have always been a shoe girl but the last couple of years I walk in stores, scan, and find nothing that captures me. I thought maybe it was because my wardrobe has all kinds of shoes covered but now I think about it, the shoes that I have loved and coveted in the past are items that in no way would be on shelves anymore. And when I think of the “it” shoes of this era, they are boring and safe compared to the shoes all the blogs were spotting ten years ago.
What happened? You would think with fast fashion that we would have more and more options rather than less. Perhaps it was the recession. Clothing does tend to become more practical during economic downturns. And the rise of the sneaker must certainly have had an impact. When I look around at crowds these days, people are almost without exception wearing sneakers. Young, old, trendy, plain. The boot, sandal, pump seem to have suffered a quick death to comfort.
Thank god for Prada. Those shoes are wonderful. Perhaps it’s time for you to start your own line!
Elizabeth Walker says
I love them too! Such a great pair of shoes!
The simplification and streamlining of all fashion trends was a reaction to the Great Recession. People had less to spend and the excess and ostentatious aesthetic of the early to mid 00’s became inappropriate in the face of thousands of people losing their jobs. Now that economy has bounced back (and if anything slipping back down again), we could be do for an upswing in excess again but maybe people’s sensibilities changed? Normcore was the name of the game for a while there
Your comment makes me wonder if this article I read about “post-normcore” is a good predictor of what is to come? It’s by Darcie Wilder on the outline, it was great! Here it is: https://theoutline.com/post/8391/post-normcore-darcie-wilder-quip-allbirds?zd=1&zi=pyksxndn
I think you may be right, perhaps tastes have changed!
Agree. And mens fashion shoes have been stagnant and deteriorating for the past 40 years or so.
Yes! It is so hard to find good shoes for my husband too!
Great post! Love the look, and love the strong opinions.
These shoes are gorge and remind me strongly of one of my all-time favorite pairs. They were the same shape except with a more rounded toe and no T on the strap and a matte, grosgrain black. I think they were MIA from the late nineties. Anyway they went with and elevated almost everything plus they were actually comfortable with a non-tippy platform that you could walk (or even dance) forever in. Basically a holy grail shoe. Always wished I could find something similar again and here they are! Unfortunately there’s no way I can spend nearly a grand on one pair of shoes but it makes me happy that you found and are rocking them so hard! Thanks for letting us enjoy all your amazing shoes and looks vicariously – your creativity and love of interesting fashion are so inspiring.
Oh my gosh I am going to have to look up MIA shoes! Those sound so great. Thank you so much, I am so glad you liked seeing the shoes! <3
I always think, tell me why I should buy YOUR shoes when all your competitors basically offer the same one? 🤷♀️
There are some things about shoe design in the last decade that I see as a huge plus – no. 1 being the lowering of heel heights. I loved 00s shoes but 5 inch platform stilettos are absurd and I’m glad they are no longer the default dressy shoe for women. Even the SS2008 Prada sandals and the SS2010 Miu Miu clogs I own, feel like they aren’t meant for days when I want to be capable of locomotion, and frankly shoes should not require ballet training to balance in. No.2 was the sneaker going mainstream and amped up (I remember greeting this development with strong approval because I was a huge fan of Lily Allen and the ‘wear trainers with everything’ school of thought).
But endless rows of kitten heels and ‘naked’ sandals are a recipe for boredom, and I’m not really a sandal kind of girl anyway (Amina Muaddi’s stuff is pretty and the heel is really cool but not for me). That said, with all the 70s trends and wider-leg trousers lately, I think we’re seeing a resurgence of platforms, you’re right on the money with those wedges. I personally welcome that development, but I’m praying the heels aren’t 5 inch stilettos this time!
pret a porter p says
I feel the same except with bags. From 2010-2019 bags have been very basic and classic. I miss the shapes of the 2000s: the interesting shapes of vuitton epi leathers, tom ford era ysls and guccis, dior samourais, etc…
Igbudu Blessing says
fashion is something I am passionate about. I like looking for the latest fashion or even the outdated ones. Love what you have done here it is truly inspiring. Thank you .
Spending $1000 on show can be too much. but i have qualify shoes that sell for way less. Nice post
Urgh, I couldn’t agree more. I was nodding my head like a stick on car motif.
Where are the exciting, totally gorgeous bags too? I need bags that are big but have lots of tassels, hardware, yes, lots of gorgeous hardware, I miss the Chanel bamboo and floral huge clasps on bags, how about the to die for Russian Doll bag? All those totally gorgeous tweed bags with oversized hardware?
What happened to Miu Miu’s multi designed Coffer bag, with the triple hardware, heavily antiqued gold locks and key designs, the beautiful pleated kitten soft leathers, the different colours ever season…?
I want a resurrection of Gucci’s Bohemia Collection, the Indy Bag (why on EARTH did they delete it?!) and yes, I am not ashamed to say, I even want the Lancel Bardot bag back (with a few refinements).
Even Prada got rid of their ICONIC Gaufre bag that came in soo many different colours every season, the hardware was fabulous on some versions and the plaited handles… These details, these fabulous details… It’s like romance, magic and mystery has been strangled from design… And it’s as if all these houses want to delete their past, it’s a really weird and fugly nasty sea we are navigating at the moment… (the past 9 years and going forward)… Where are my sea sickness pills?!
Wow you are so right. I didn’t even realize it. But the days of crazy WTF shoes are no longer.
I thought it was because I’m getting older and more practical with my money, I live in Austin where you’re more likely to ruin a pair of good shoes at a dusty outdoor bar, and have stopped paying as much attention to fashion shows since the overwhelming inundation of IG, more fashion labels, etc. It’s so hard to keep up. Remember the days when you could go to style.com and it was feasible to look through almost every photo?
I will never forget those 2006 Balenciaga boots. I still covet them and occasionally check eBay.
Lastly, you may have been, but I went to the Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto last year for the first time. Talk about exquisitely done. Highly recommend. It reminded me how crazy happy shoes can make me feel. They do a fantastic job of putting historical context around footwear from indigenous pieces to fashion pieces.
SO SO SOOOO TRUE ! I’m desperate for an amazing pair of shoes just as much …