Shoes for Spring: The Edge vs The Wedge

Haruku ballet flats (above) by Hetty Rose, made from vintage Kimono fabrics.

“Fashion is about two things: the evolution and the opposite,” was Karl Lagerfeld’s proclamation to press during a preview of his spring couture collection. I’m not sure he was referring to the flat and the wedge, but the Chanel model wearing pretty black ballet shoes with transparent ankle straps did appear a strike against a suddenly dated stiletto.

This season, it’s about choosing the thin edge or the wedge. The divergent shoe choice reflects an unusual unfolding between successive fashion era influences. The tunics and square-shouldered cuts are clearly inspired by the spare minimalism of the 1960’s, shown side-by-side with relaxed tailored ensembles informed by the free-flowing heyday of YSL in the 70’s.

From my recent experience of graceless clomping through Mumbai’s higgledy-piggledy streets, I can’t agree with Harper’s Bazaar’s assessment of the new platform as, “the hip, walkable flat wedge.” It is, however, the only option for anchoring the billowing looks of the 1970’s. Flowy is one thing, floppy, another.

I’m sticking with last summer’s wood wedges with tan leather straps and studs from Celine’s standout collection. They’re the perfect balance of polish and rustic, and justifiably informing many similar looks this season.

Coclico’s Morphos Wolf Wedge (above) in soft grey suede.

For those of us not blessed with a high instep that naturally makes wearing high-heeled shoes comfortable, the return of flat shoes in the form of ballet flats and oxfords is welcome news. The lack of height and weight of the shoes requires a tapered leg and streamlined silhouette. While a nude oxford updates black skinny jeans nicely, the tight silhouette of the ballet flat provides a risk-free point of accent for injection of this season’s trend for neon hues. Bright yellow, orange and red are key colors for shoes and bags this season.

Vegetable tanned leather megumi ochi style 1984 taupe oxford (above).

The ingenious use of stripes, novelty prints and color blocking as seen at Louis Vuitton, Jil Sander and most arrestingly, Prada, are influencing accessories designers too. If you, like me, are irrationally tempted by the trend for pink jeans as soon as the weather thaws, a bright red ballet shoe would amp up the look.

Recycled Babylon Flat (above) in red, by Olsen Haus.

Rowena Ritchie

Rowena is EcoSalon’s West Coast Fashion Editor and currently resides in San Francisco, CA.