Eyes down at the Men’s collections, AW14: focus on footwear
As a confirmed shoe obsessive my camera lens is often to be found pointing at floor level when attending fashion shows and presentations, even when footwear isn’t the intended focus. At the recent London shows there were two strong themes evident, which have continued on into the Milan and Paris collections.
Firstly there was a definite element of fashion following the austerity agenda with simple, utilitarian shoes on display, apparently reflecting the uniforms of working men (quite literally on the wet pavements at Topman Design). And secondly, we saw the continuing influence of trainers and sportswear details in high-fashion footwear.
However, this being fashion, looks can be deceiving, so apparently straightforward shapes like simple workaday oxfords turned out to have a subtle, metallic sheen (as at Common) or were high-gloss with elements of bright colour at the sole (at Jonathan Saunders).
At Prada, always directional with their footwear, shoes were a shiny hybrid of chunky trainer and shoe in solid brights, not wildly dissimilar to the Miu Miu men’s trainer-shoe amalgams of the ’90s with their then-revolutionary rubberised flashes of primary colour. The proportions of these shoes were less extreme than the espadrille platforms and raised shark-teeth soles of recent Prada collections and, as such, are likely to find a wider fan-base.
Which brings me onto a third men’s shoe theme of note: a certain element of proportion play, verging on the ugly, but in pared back colours with one or two elements exaggerated as part of a minimal whole.
Rick Owens has been playing with this outline for some time, with his solid rubber-soled trainers and canvas boots with a slightly turned-up profile, like an exaggerated form of the classic downtown baseball boot (one such style of his is titled Ramones). In his Paris menswear show this week, the heavy rubber toes of such boots were seen peeking out from under long trouser hems in his airman-meets-Trojan-warrior collection.
Owens’ ongoing collaborations with Adidas also explores this exaggerated perspective as with the avant-garde elevated soles as seen at his much-discussed step-dancing women’s show.
Raf Simon’s highly-applauded collaborative show with artist Sterling Ruby this week featured solid-coloured, rubber-soled boots with an even more exaggerated profile than Owens’, of J.S. Lowry-cum-cartoon-character proportions.
Less controversially perhaps, at Carven earlier in the week as part of a collection infused with looks inspired by the sartorial excess of classic American gangster style, spats were given a futuristic update: alongside solid white, black and grey shoes exhibiting elements of both the high-gloss and minimal trends.