Heels are making a serious comeback, with stars leading the post-lockdown trend for towering footwear.
Beyoncé donned a pair of this year’s “it” shoe — six-inch hot pink Versace platform heels — to an event in August, spurring an internet frenzy over the item. Celebrities were seen sporting similar styles at the White House and Met Gala, respectively.
“People just want to feel happy again,” said celebrity stylist Nicole Chavez, adding that high heels, particularly bright-colored and sparkly ones, are part of the greater “mood-enhancing” fashion seen across the board, from clothing to accessories.
However, within the wider trend for statement heels, the pivot to platforms — or ones with chunkier soles reminiscent of Y2K fashion — may be best explained after a year of loungewear-dominated wardrobes.
“We’re coming out of wearing sneakers and being in comfortable shoes, and so the jump from sneakers to stilettos is a big one. I feel like the platform because it is more comfortable, is a great alternative. Right now, it’s platform everything. The higher, the chunkier, the better,” Chavez said.
The platform heel — which combined both a block sole and heel — is believed to have emerged in 17th century Persia. The style was worn by Persian horseback riders as designers attempted to “figure out the architecture of the high heel,” said Hemmelseck.
Once the high heel was developed, they fell into obscurity before coming back into fashion during the 1930s, 1970s and late 1990s, and 2000s. Interest in platforms seems to grow during times of “social unrest and economic stress,” Hemmelseck observed.
If there was ever a fantasy shoe, it was the one created by Italian shoe designer Salvatore Ferragamo. In 1938, during the Great Depression, the designer released “The Rainbow” — platforms sporting a multi-colored sole that were dedicated to actor Judy Garland. They were made with cork as well as colored leather, a material that was scarce at the time.
Beyond being a form of escapism, however, platforms again rose in popularity in the 1930s due to pragmatism, Hemmelseck speculated. Many women at the time couldn’t afford a luxurious wardrobe, so investing in an expensive platform heel that could be worn with many outfits offered a way to participate in fashion trends through a “single outrageous accessory,” she said.