A more delicate shoe is treading the boards for spring, says Francesca Fearon
WE ARE a nation of shoe lovers, spending £2.5 billion on high heels a year — and the higher the better it seems, judging by the long reign of the mega-platforms. Nevertheless as we kick-start a new season, there is a definite move to chop those platforms down to size and make shoes more refined and deli- cate, rather than the dubious attention-grabbers they have become.
Single-sole courts, elegant ankle cuffs, monochrome and shiny metallic leathers are just a few of the best ideas that emerged from the collections in London and Milan. The sophisticated pointed stiletto makes a welcome comeback in all collections from Rupert Sanderson and Gianvito Rossi to Jimmy Choo and Russell & Bromley. Of course, it is a classic court: heels are high, but platforms are banished to create a lighter, more elegant and refined silhouette.
Gianvito Rossi makes the style a statement in white; Jimmy Choo moulds it in python or zinging metallic pink. Bruno Frisoni, the designer at Roger Vivier, also favours a colourful metallic sheen for such a sophisticated design classic. L.K. Bennett, meanwhile, struggling to keep pace with the demand for its flattering nude classic court shoes since the Duchess of Cambridge started wearing them, has come up with pearlised gunmetal and blush finishes that are a fresh and glamorous take on the nude shoe and will complement breezy white and neutral summer dresses.
Silver and gold are favourites for party girls, but the fashion for rose gold settings in our watches and jewellery is slipping southwards into other accessories, notably shoes. Rose gold courts, Mary Janes and sandals pop up in many collec- tions from high-street brands like Kurt Geiger through to designer ranges such as Gianvito Rossi. The trend has evolved to draw in other hues like metallic blue and hot pinks at Nicholas Kirkwood and Rupert Sanderson and shiny reds and greens at Sergio Rossi. Sergio Rossi also taps into the trend for fringing and monochrome patterns for their high sandals.
Some shoes are so mirror-bright that you can almost see your reflection in them. Pastel mirror shades of lilac, pink and lime green accessorised Raf Simons’ debut ready-towear collection at Christian Dior. He styled them with tuxedo looks and Dior’s signature grey tailoring, illustrating how metallic leathers
can be worn in the ballroom or the boardroom. The message is that these shoes are not just reserved for parties. Just think how glamorous masculine tailored trousers would look in daytime with a classic but shiny pointed toe peeping out fromunderneath the hem.
If you are looking for evening glamour, then you need a shoe with a wide ankle cuff — so sophisticated on slim legs, when worn with a pencil skirt. Gucci, Giorgio Armani, Guiseppe Zanotti and Russell & Bromley all shifted the focus from the toes to the ankles. Gladiators are another summer favourite, whether high heels for evening or flats for the beach, and appear in every collection, sometimes decorated in boho style with tassels, as at Sergio Rossi and Jimmy Choo.
Monochrome is an important trend, especially for day: the ying and yang of black and white as a combination works perfectly with the chic monochrome trouser suits and all the striped and geometric patterns in the new fashion collections. A short white shift dress taps into that Sixties Modernist vibe when worn with black and white wedges from Roger Vivier’s Prismick range or their signature pilgrim buckle flat made famous by Catherine Deneuve in her 1960s classic Belle de Jour. Nicholas Kirkwood also has created a wide range of graphic styles including some with lower heels for both his own brand and that of Pollini which he designs.
A low heel can look cool and young, says Kirkwood and there are plenty to be found around the brands. The black-and-white theme continues in patent tasselled loafers and brogues at Pollini, Russell & Bromley, Bertie and Dune. The androgynous look is a hot story for spring. Russell & Bromley says flat shoes and boots were big sellers last autumn, as customers started to look for more comfort along with great style. Black and metallic jazz shoe lace-ups are certainly going to be foot tapping their way out of stores over the next few weeks.
At the root of the trend was a quest for a replacement for the classic ballerina pump that has been making women feel like Audrey Hepburn since 1957.
The outcome, the velvet dandy slipper, has its roots going even further back to Georgian times. These have evolved from winter velvets into bright stripes, embroidered and studded styles for spring at Tods, Roger Vivier and Penelope Chilvers. They are a perfect marriage of style and practicality for the new season.
Russell & Bromley French Cuff shoe £245
Gianvito Rossi metallic T-bar bootie £475
Rupert Sanderson Teoni in turquoise, fuchsia and blue metallic £685
Sergio Rossi T-bar £890
Jimmy Choo Manous in orchid suede £695
Fringe drama from Sergio Rossi £910
Rupert Sanderson white patent £895
Nicholas Kirkwood laced peeptoe £580
Roger Vivier Belle de Nuit wedge £595
Tods striped slip-on £235