With fashion month’s fall winter ’23 season finally in the rearview, we now have a better sense of the footwear trends that are destined to rise to the top come fall. On the ready-to-wear front, the entire season was more serious and muted than the past few, where party clothes and sparkly shoes and bags abounded. Gone were most of the naked dresses and sequins; in their place, a serious palette of gray, of sharp suiting, of sensible basics for day wear. It’s back to business, and less fun-and-games revenge fashion, as the runways began to reflect feelings of stoicism and uncertainty surrounding the global economy.
The same went for footwear, on the whole. More traditional (and traditionally gender ascribed) silhouettes seemed to be on the minds of many designers. Less clunky platforms, more pointy-toed stilettos. Boots took a more serious turn, too, though there were still some opportunities for fun, with a run on Western boots inspired by last summer’s breakout trend.
Here, a look at seven of the top footwear trends from fashion month’s New York, London, Milan and Paris circuit.
1. Pointy toes
For years now, the square toe had a hold on fashion’s “It” shoes — but no more, it seems. Everywhere at fashion month, the pointy toe made its comeback. Prada led the charge, with a series of pumps adorned with what resembled origami folds, fashioned out of leather. A closer look revealed that the pumps came with a toe-box build-in, only visible from the side to show an unevenness in the point and an elongation. Elsewhere, Jimmy Choo continued to mine vintage silhouettes, with a sling back pointy toe pump outfitted with minimal buckle detailing, while Saint Laurent went for the extreme, pairing pointy toes with metal stilettos and slick patent leather.
The days of pedestal platforms and softly curved heels might be numbered, if the fall winter ’23 runways were any indication. In what seemed like a quest for a stoic, modest and recession-proof uniform of grays, blacks and sharply cut suiting, the stiletto heel also emerged as a sobering — though severe — silhouette. Tory Burch explored vintage flourishes, but a series of black stiletto pumps were unadorned. Givenchy continued to do the stiletto heel, adding some color and nuance along the way. The Saint Laurent metal stiletto is destined to be a source of perhaps inspiration and benchmark — which celebrity can accomplish the feat of wearing them (and walking in them) on the red carpet come fall?
3. Mary Janes
A micro trend in footwear over the past few seasons, the Mary Jane continued to appear in fall winter ’23 collections. At Roger Vivier, creative director Gherardo Felloni kept the block heel low and adorned them with the brand’s signature buckles, miniaturized. At Stuart Weitzman, a style from 2008 that became a key footwear style for Beyoncé while on tour that year reemerged. Other brands large and small showed the style, from Christian Dior with a retro spectator to By Far, with a pair of mint green patent leather low block heels, and AGL, with a pair in patent orange with a pedestal heel.
4. Slouchy boots
Ready-to-wear silhouettes may have tightened up a bit on the whole for fall winter ’23, but on the boot front there was a little more leeway. Slouchy boots appeared on the runways, from Loewe to Y/Project, with the former fashioning a pair with shafts that resembled the waistband of a pair of leather pants (rivets, buttons and trompe-l’œil pockets included, though not a zipper). Y/Project’s pair called to mind a key past collaboration with Ugg that saw slouchy shearling; this time the boots came in denim with buttons up and down. At Isabel Marant, over-the-knees in slouchy vegetable-tanned leather also appeared to be convertible with multiple zipper accents.
Perhaps it’s the impending return of Phoebe Philo to the fashion landscape (with the designer’s return slated for this September), but suddenly fuzzy shoes were back on the menu at fall winter ’23 shows. At Gucci, the design team holding court until new creative director Sabato De Sarno shows his debut collection (also in September) seemed to mine some of the brand’s more notable footwear moments from the past; a pair of fuzzy thong sandals with a kitten heel felt like the same but different from former creative director Alessandro Michele’s hit Princetown slide from 2015 (which, coincidentally, the brand has also re-released as a re-edition on its site). At Burberry, Daniel Lee showed a debut collection for the brand filled with tactile moments, including teddy boots aBruno Frisoni, Gia Borghini, Casadei and By Far also had some fuzz in their fall winter ’23 collections.
No doubt inspired by the runaway success of the Givenchy Shark Lock boot, fall winter ’23 collections were filled with similar silhouettes that explored what a foldover detailing could do for a classic fall boot. At Alexandre Birman, the foldover created a bootcut-like hem and featured leather corset-stitch detailing on the side. AGL’s boot had a textured stacked heel (inspired by Greek columns) and a curved foldover shape on the front of the shaft, while Le Silla’s foldover boot had a Western edge with crystal fringe detailing down the side.
It shouldn’t be any surprise that Western boots walked the fall winter ’23 runways. After becoming a surprise summer ’22 trend, the boots are showing continued relevance (and are proving to be even more wearable with fall wardrobes). At Giuseppe Zanotti, the designer added just the right amount bling to a Cuban heeled boot for a rhinestone cowgirl moment, while Bottega Veneta explored nuanced Western details on sumptuous leather. Casadei also did a Western ankle boot in a crackled leather, one of the more wearable and commercially viable styles of the bunch.