It is not unlikely that somewhere in the world, at this very moment, the marketing teams at Jimmy Choo and Louboutin are holding a crisis summit to discuss one of the main trends to have emerged from the SS17 catwalks. Such was the prevalence of ugly, clumpy footwear across the board, that there must be some very serious concerns about whether brands which specialise in dainty, elegant stilettos will survive the winter. Meanwhile the folks at Manrepeller will have already called in enough items to produce all the style stories they need until 2018.
Ugly shoes are back. And much like a Francis Bacon painting, there’s a certain sublimity in the aesthetic horror of these creations.
It all started in New York, when streetwear label Hood by Air walked the dual toed cowboy boot in yellow, chalky grey, patent black and blue. These surreal structures were consciously subversive and provocative: a challenge to the consumer and certainly not the most wearable of accessories. But far from enacting a moment of counter-culture, Creative Director Shayne Oliver set a precedent for what was to come. Victoria Beckham walked slouchy canvas boots with leather strips over the toe. These weren’t so bad, though when paired with over-the-knee velvet skirts the overall look felt distinctly anti-fashion. At Marc Jacobs, thick platform soles on bright pink and purple 70’s disco boots complimented rainbow-coloured dreads. Kanye West‘s Yeezy collection walked thigh-high boots in clear plastic and white leather, teamed with micro mini-dresses or oversized hoodies.
In London, the trend continued. Christopher Kane did the unthinkable, pairing up with Crocs to present a collection in which metallic mineral stones adorned navy, tan and marbled versions of the shoe everyone loves to hate (or just genuinely loathes). Some say you can’t put lipstick on a pig, but as makeovers go, Kane ensured Crocs’ transformation was pretty convincing. At Burberry, chunky black lace-up ankle boots came with thick buckles over the foot. Meanwhile the Marques’Almeida designers walked frilled-lizard inspired flats, splendid in brown leather, metallic pink and silver.
Not known for their refusal of glamour and elegance, it was clear that ugly footwear had seduced the Italians too. In Milan, Diesel Gold embraced pale pink, lace-up duck boots with a grey toe cap, and black knee-high gladiator sandals with belt strap detail. A long-time purveyor of “ugly shoes” Prada walked 70s plastic platforms with plastic flower detail, as well as yellow and red versions, reminiscent of the covetable colours of DHL. At Emilio Pucci, sock like ankle boots came in fuchsia, indigo and bumblebee yellow, as well as a range of their signature prints.
To finish a month of frivolities, the catwalks of Paris Fashion Week made sure that ugly footwear got a good send off. At Céline, knee high pastel socks were worn under delicate sandals – offering an easy way to out-alpha your grandfather’s footwear game. Mismatching shoes were seen here too, offering up a new sort of power woman who says ‘yes, this is on purpose.’ Comme des Garçons paired extravagant sculptural pieces with shapeless white ankle boots and black suction trainers. Maison Margiela also channelled scuba to ugly-shoe effect: with the iconic “Tabi” refashioned for modern day.
At Vivienne Westwood, Andreas Kronthaler and Vivienne unashamedly embraced socks and sandals too, and threw clogs – for both males and females – into the mix for good measure. Industry maverick Rick Owens brought back the square toe, showing slouchy boots with a wedge heel in neutral colour ways. A highlight was the metallic pair which came complete with their own gold bangles. Balenciaga came up trumps though, offering square toes on thigh-high patent versions.
In short, if you find the first reaction people have to your shoes is “what are you wearing?” then you are doing everything right.
*This article was published on #meangirlsday.
The Culture Trip Style Story: Fugly Shoes
For an easy style update, try layering shoes.