Fancy That!

The column by fashion academic and writer Pearl Westwood, which takes a look at current trends and delves into the past. Discovering that today’s style influences can come from decades ago and worlds gone by, it will have you exclaiming ‘Fancy that!’

I love shoes; I hold both hands up and confess. I have what most people would agree is a ridiculously large collection. But that word there ‘collection’ or ‘collector’ as I like to call myself is my get-out clause. You see as a collector of shoes, to have so many seems normal. I mean you wouldn’t expect a stamp collector to just have one or two would you? Being the kind of person who pays so much attention to shoes I notice two things – firstly that some styles are always in fashion. Heel heights and toe shapes might come in and out of favour, but a simple black stiletto will remain a classic. Secondly, shoe trends have very little turnaround time, unlike clothes with hem lines rising and lowering before you have time to visit a seamstress, shoe styles stick around. One style will come creeping up, BAM! Suddenly it is everywhere and there it will stay not just for seasons but for a year or even two. Then a new style will pop up and back it will slink to gather dust on a forgotten shelf. What always surprises me is how quickly the old styles are forgotten and how fresh and exciting the new styles seem. It is rather clever how shoe designers make us so utterly excited over their new, shiny and unique designs. What’s even smarter is that most of these ‘new’ designs are in fact quite the opposite.

Fancy That Heelless Shoes 1

One of the hottest trends right now are heelless shoes, shoes which let you float miraculously like walking on air. Daphne Guinness in her custom Natacha Marro’s basically owned this look until Victoria Beckham in Antonio Berardi and Lady Gaga in Noritaka Tatehana brought the shoes to the mainstream and with them a flurry of styles were available on the high street. I admit this one surprised me, I really didn’t think it would catch on, they look so impractical. I simply adore the image of Daphne rocking back on her heels to take a break.

Fancy That Heelless Shoes 2

But did you know ladies up to 80 years ago were also floating along in heelless shoes? In fact heelless shoes can be traced as far back as the 1930’s where Andre Perugia was making shoes fit for Lady Gaga, the red design above is from 1937. Heelless shoes also made an appearance in the 1950s and 60s – take these by Stefano Marazzini from 1968 – but never really took off as a popular fashion item until recently. Just goes to show how far ahead of their time some designers really are! So if you are strapping on your Jeffery Campbell Night Walk’s this evening just imagine, your grandmother could have been wearing something very similar.

By Pearl Westwood (@pearlwestwood)

Image credits:

  5. Authors own copyright Pearl Westwood 2013, taken at Northampton Museum & Art Gallery