MILAN — Take it to the max.
Thigh-high boots, towering platforms, bright colors and eclectic embellishments defined the shoe offering for fall 2022, making the category shine bright in the accessory arena.
A process initiated last year with a little help from the global vaccine rollouts, the return to bold and party-ready styles injected an optimistic vibe into collections, despite the war in Ukraine casting a gloom over the shows in Paris.
The resumption of social gatherings influenced two main and opposing footwear trends. In one corner of the (shoe) ring, high-heeled, exuberant options stood out with their exaggerated silhouettes, metallic or holographic finishes and bejeweled details. In the other, more everyday options caught the imagination with their new takes on cowboy boots or sports-inspired styles.
The common trait was footwear that demanded to be seen that’s set to further feed consumer demand for statement items.
“Our shoppers are loving embellishments in both shoes and handbags. Details like crystals, pearls and feathers bring a level of emotion and excitement that really excite shoppers, especially as they look to dress the part for their busier social calendar,” said Marissa Galante Frank, fashion director for accessories and beauty at Bloomingdale’s.
“We are seeing a big change in the shoe demand, where the party and revenge-spending mood is making customers move away from the more daily and comfy offer toward evening styles,” confirmed Rinascente’s head of fashion Federica Montelli.
Hence the return in full force of bejeweled sandals and platforms. While high-heeled crystal-embellished styles were spotted from Saint Laurent to Roger Vivier and Alexandre Birman, platforms ruled at Valentino, specifically in the Pantone Pink PP flashy fuchsia version that is set take Instagram by storm. At Giambattista Valli, platform styles were covered in glitter; at Balmain they were rendered in black leather for an edgier touch, and Christian Louboutin offered arty takes on the trend via metallic embroideries and Arabic mosaic-like motifs, among others. One thing is certain: Versace’s Medusa Aevitas style launched last year was a big hit, so this new class of platforms could continue to run.
“Our customers are definitely going out again and, with that, we’re seeing demand for high-octane glamour, a progression from last season’s offering,” said Browns’ buying director Ida Petersson, confirming that embellished pumps and platforms, as well as statement-worthy clutches and mini bags, are all the rage with the retailer’s shoppers. Such an appetite creates space for other brands to shine, too, as Petersson named Mach & Mach, Amina Muaddi and Benedetta Bruzziches among the labels that keep garnering consumer interest.
While Mach & Mach and Benedetta Bruzziches were also mentioned by Harrods’ head of shoes and accessories Josie Gardner and Net-a-porter’s senior market editor Libby Page, respectively, Moda Operandi’s divisional merchandise manager for accessories Ryan Kleman cited Arielle Baron, “a new footwear brand that is offering a balanced, but very emotional collection of shoes, that is sure to soon be on ‘It’ girls at every red carpet and neighborhood bar alike.”
Matchesfashion’s head of womenswear Cassie Smart revealed the retailer will be launching D’accori soon, instead. “[The brand] offers fabulous occasion styles in strong color options and modern shapes — a highlight being the Belle platform,” Smart said.
Meanwhile, in Paris, Montelli was impressed by the relaunch of Paul Andrew’s namesake shoe line, forecasting a big hit for its “curved heels and jewel-accessorized sling-backs.”
Loewe was indisputably one of the stars of Paris Fashion Week, as Jonathan Anderson offered plenty of unique options in accessories, imbuing the same surreal touch of the ready-to-wear in his footwear lineup. Case in point: the balloon elements appearing on sandals or making for shoe heels that were the talk of the season.
One of the biggest themes in footwear was the proliferation of thigh-high boots, which made models stride with extra confidence. From the colorful take at Germanier to the fierce, second-skin interpretation at Givenchy, all renditions were fair game as long as they were over the knee. Isabel Marant offered great takes on the trend, from leathery options to a glam version in metallic blue, while at Courrèges, boots came with a silver effect or sleek vinyl touch and a pile of side buckles. Over-the-knee boots also abounded at Balenciaga, Lanvin, Coperni, Giambattista Valli, Acne Studios, Sacai and Marine Serre. Rick Owens’ otherworldly interpretation stood out for blending platform shoes with shield-like structures hitting above the knee.
While more standard proportions and a rich, ornamental approach were detectable in Dries Van Noten’s Chinese blue porcelain-inspired high boots and in Alexandre Vauthier’s styles with crystal floral appliqués, a pragmatic take on the over-the-knee trend was spotted at Chanel and Patou, where styles were revisited as rain boots, looking to provide fashionistas with a stylish ally against drizzly weather next season.
The more everyday approach continued in the cowboy-inspired boots seen at Chloè, Stella McCartney and the biker boots that caught the attention at Miu Miu, where they competed with the other star shoe of the show: satin ballerinas.
Sports references represented another theme seen on the runways, encompassing different disciplines rendered through an eccentric filter. Dior’s kitten heeled styles had a motor racing influence, Chloè included hiking boots while Balmain reinterpreted ski boots.
The elongated silhouettes created by the footwear offering was matched by other accessories, including gloves, which were racing-inspired at Dior, zippered at Rick Owens, Edward Scissorhands-reminiscent at Schiaparelli and eye-catching for color or shape at Valentino and Kochè, respectively.
While bags were rendered in puffy proportions or new materials, ranging from denim at Acne Studios to glass at Coperni, jewelry stood out in chunky shapes and arty touches, including the statement bangles piled up at Saint Laurent, the bold earrings at Courrèges, the butterfly-shaped embellishments at Dries Van Noten and the bold pieces spotted at Schiaparelli.
“Accessories have the power to make a simple outfit a spectacular talking point and Harrods customers are always in search of those special and unique pieces, bold in color or with a little sparkle,” said Gardner, noticing that customers are pivoting toward colorful pieces to “bring joy to their wardrobes, even if they don’t feel brave enough to embrace color in their clothes.”
“The client is looking for items that she has to have: items that elicit an emotional response in her from the moment she sees them come down the runway,” noted Kleman, who believes that “’power designer’ brands and items” will remain relevant for seasons to come.
Page underscored that accessories are a driving force for Net-a-porter, as they receive the highest engagement across the company’s social channels, encompassing Instagram, Livestream and TikTok.
“We heavily invest in what we believe are the must-have items of the season as we consistently see a hunger for these items amongst customers,” she said, mentioning as current examples Saint Laurent’s Mica sunglasses in black, Loewe’s puzzle bag in various shades, Jacquemus’ Le Chiquito Noeud leather bag and The Row’s leather belt. “In comparison to this time last year when we were seeing stronger interest for more logo-centric pieces across belts and bags especially,” added Page.
Here are buyers’ top picks for fall 2022:
Marissa Galante Frank, fashion director for accessories and beauty at Bloomingdale’s
Favorite accessories: Paris Fashion Week has shown some of my favorite shoes of the season with Chloé’s hiker bootie, Stella McCartney’s Western-inspired boots and Miu Miu’s biker boots and loafers. Saint Laurent’s bangles and Coperni’s swipe bag in blown glass were favorites as well.
Top trends: People are going to gravitate toward party heels and the embellished disco bag. Western boots, platforms and metallics across shoes and handbags will also be top trends in accessories next season.
Ida Petersson, buying director at Browns
Favorite accessories: Personal footwear highlights this season were Valentino’s exaggerated platforms, Givenchy’s ultra thigh-high boots, cowboy boots from Chloé, the plexi-heel platforms at Rick Owens and, of course, the Loewe balloon shoes, which were unforgettable. Looking at bags, standout styles include Cecilie Bahnsen’s silk mini bag, the Loewe puffy Flamenco and Barcelona offerings, glass bags at Coperni and the pink stud mini from Valentino. We loved Dries Van Noten’s jewelry, especially the butterfly crystal series, the belt bags at Hoda Kova and, of course, who could forget Schiaparelli’s dramatic hats?
Top trends: Over-the-knee boots, platforms, feathers, puffy shoes and bags.
Josie Gardner, head of shoes and accessories at Harrods
Favorite accessories: The accessories this season were bold and conversational, we saw more bags than ever grace the runways and shoes were real showstoppers. Valentino in its entirety was an emotive and poignant show of wish list pieces. From the long gloves, platform patent shoes and one stud bag in Pantone Pink PP by Pierpaolo [Piccioli] were true highlights for me and styles that I can see being extremely translatable to our customers. Isabel Marant’s metallic over-the-knee boots and Saint Laurent’s gorgeous chunky bangle stacks both perfectly enhanced the collections and became a recognizable motif throughout the shows. And finally, Loewe‘s party statement silver bow shoes remain in my mind as a star of a beautiful show, a true piece of art.
The presentations this season were standout and showcased some pieces that I expect will become icons of the season ahead, from Schiaparelli’s iconic statement jewelry and Edward Scissorhands [inspired] gloves to Louboutin’s iconic lipstick heeled shoe and, of course, the Bulgari x Casablanca collaboration, which was an unexpected match made in heaven that I think Harrods customers would love. Victoria Beckham’s foray into the world of bags was also memorable and a perfect development for the brand and the clutch with chain wrist strap is so chic.
Top trends: We saw the reintroduction of gloves this season, which were used to either perfectly correspond to or completely contrast the paired look. From Dior’s moto-style leather gloves, paired with delicate lace silhouettes to Schiaparelli’s super chic leather styles and Valentino’s all pink everything gloves, it’s a trend to watch and I’m eager to see how customers respond. The shoes shown this season were truly sensational from mega platforms — a special shoutout to Valentino’s iconic towering 18cm styles — to thigh-high boots in all guises, from crystalized knitted styles at Isabel Marant to impeccably sleek at Louis Vuitton. The clutch is back and not just for our eveningwear customers, with added straps and detailing we’ve seen that this style is easily translatable into everyday wear and an elevated style I am confident we will see more and more.
Cassie Smart, head of womenswear at Matchesfashion
Favorite accessories: Loewe’s balloon and silver bow party shoe for the creativity and originality and Saint Laurent’s crystal shoe.
Top trends: Maximalist occasion heels
Ryan Kleman, divisional merchandise manager, accessories at Moda Operandi
Favorite accessories: The pink platform boots and full-length gloves at Valentino, The Row’s future heirloom handbags — worthy of passing down for generations to come, Balenciaga’s oversize shaft boots, new sneaker and maxi-sized hourglass shoulder bag, the thigh-high moto-boots at Isabel Marant, and the patchwork denim handbag at Acne Studios.
Top trends: Thigh-high boots, or “Pantboots,” maxi bags (oversize silhouette), platforms, the East-West elongated baguette handbag, and stacked bracelets and cuffs.
Libby Page, senior market editor at Net-a-porter
Favorite accessories: I absolutely loved the Valentino platforms, which brought the height and drama in a daring pink shade, meanwhile Chloé showcased some seriously cool hiking boots that in contrast had a much more relaxed feel. All the accessories at Loewe were also incredibly emotional, such as the puffy Goya bag and metallic bow shoes that made such a statement. Knee-high boots were a highlight at the presentations, and we saw eclectic variations in black, white and red tortoiseshell at Dries Van Noten as well as glossy patent styles at Nodaleto.
Top trends: “Pillow Talk” at the likes of Stella McCartney, Loewe and Off-White, consisting of gorgeous, padded, oversize bags designed with both practicality and style in mind. Chunky asymmetric wrist cuffs at Loewe and Saint Laurent that elevated and completed each look. Sexy thigh-high boots in buttery leathers at Givenchy, Isabel Marant, Dries Van Noten and Nodaleto with the modern-day woman in mind.
Federica Montelli, head of fashion at Rinascente
Favorite accessories: The Row, for its quintessential luxury shoes (in specific, the new chic loafer) and its “soft as butter” bags. Valentino made a point not only for pink, but also for the plateau shoes and colored hardware bags. Loewe, for its fun surrealist shoes and the “Goya” bag. Coperni for its bags that are becoming a fashion collector’s obsession. Chanel had amazing shoes as always, launching the over-the-knee rubber boot and pointy sling-backs. Miu Miu presented soft ballet flats and a chunky biker boot that everybody will go crazy for. At Saint Laurent, the highlight was jewelry, with sets of chunky molded extra-large bangles. Then Roger Vivier, for its entertaining presentation as always, followed by Schiaparelli and Delvaux dominating the luxury scene. By Far for the young contemporary clientele, with a strong pop-colored offer in patent leather.
Top trends: Maxi plateau shoes, be they boots, sandals or mary janes. Winter boots, from the padded option at Loewe to a more classic hiking style as seen at Chloé. Double belts, worn low waist at Miu Miu. Huge shield sunglasses, as seen at Courrèges or the inverted lens as seen at Balenciaga. For soft accessories: extra long luxurious scarfs as seen at The Row, and balaclavas virtually everywhere else. Thigh-high sock boots were seen everywhere from Lycra at Balenciaga, to soft-colored napa at Dries Van Noten, to those Acne studios made of embroidered wool, to those in patent leather at Courrèges. Small hobos were another big hit, and those of Coperni, Miu Miu and Givenchy were particularly strong. Sparkle (mainly Swarovski iterations) and specchio leather were particularly strong both in bags and shoes, confirming the partywear trend.
Riccardo Tortato, head of buying department and men’s fashion director, Tsum, Moscow and DLT, St. Petersburg
Favorite accessories: Valentino platform shoes and the boots-bag from Balenciaga
Top trends: High heels