My day job seems to absorb more and more of my time, leaving me with little space for side projects like this blog, but I have tried to keep in touch with the fall ready-to-wear collections, at least from the narrow focus of what use designers are making of boots this year. And there were plenty of them, from ankle to thigh-high, and from Alberto Ferritti to Zuhair Murad. There were towering mock-croc thighboots at Max Mara and seventies-style platforms at Longchamp. But the one that garnered all the attention, and not just from me, was Hedi Slimane’s collection for Celine, a time machine taking us straight back to 1977/78, with pleated, knee-length skirts, horse-bit belts, white silk blouses, blazers, capes, and culottes. There were also glossy knee-length high-heeled boots, thigh-high boots over skinny jeans, and even sheepskin lined thighboots of the sort once sported by Kate Bush. Writing for Vogue, Sarah Mower described it as typical of the bourgeois French girl’s wardrobe throughout the ’70s and ’80s, but it could equally have been seen in Britain or America at the same time. It’s exactly the relaxed, countrified look typical of the second half of the nineteen seventies, which I discussed in an earlier post, “baggy boots” and all.
In the Daily Telegraph, Hannah Rochell pointed out that this “long skirt, tall boots” look has actually been around on the posts of various social media influencers since the fall of last year, suggesting that Slimane’s work was perhaps not as newsworthy as the mainstream fashion press was suggesting, although no less desirable for that. Meanwhile, I found myself wondering when was the last time that culottes teamed with knee-length boots were popular. My guess is that it’s been a good 40 years.
Mower, Sarah. Celine Fall 2019 Ready-to-Wear Collection. Vogue.com, Mar 1, 2019
Rochell, Hannah. Why the latest Celine collection is already old news on Instagram. Daily Telegraph, Mar 7, 2019
Last month we lost Karl Lagerfeld, at the grand old age of 85, still going strong as a designer up to the end. Lagerfeld features heavily in Made for Walking: his 1977 collection for Chloe, which featured swashbuckling over-the-knee boots inspired by Federico Fellini’s Casanova; his 1982 collection for the same company, which combined narrow skirts with tall, low-heeled boots to create the impression that the women were wearing pants; the loose-fitting, high heeled suede boots of his 1985 Fendi collection; his iconic 1991 biker boot for Chanel. But perhaps my favorite, by far, was his 1990 haute couture collection for Chanel. In a cheeky homage to Coco Chanel’s famous dislike of knees, Lagerfeld combined massive, opulent ballgowns with thigh-high satin boots (above). He described the look as “Madonna meets Jayne Wrightsman,” in a nod to the latter’s renowned collection of decorative arts of the ancien régime. Lagerfeld was, in the words of his New York Times obituary, one of the first examples of the designer as shape shifter, “the creative force who lands at the top of a heritage brand and reinvents it by identifying its sartorial semiology and then pulls it into the present with a healthy dose of disrespect and a dollop of pop culture.”
- Karl Lagerfeld, Designer Who Defined Luxury Fashion, Is Dead. New York Times, Feb 19, 2019.
- Anon. Chloeallure: Beautiful Costumes from The Dressing-Up Box. Vogue UK, Sept 1977: pp.126-129
- Morris, Bernadine. At Lagerfeld’s Paris show, the 18th Century goes modern. New York Times, Mar 29, 1977: pg.41.
- Morris, Bernadine. St Laurent: No Fuss, Just Style. New York Times, April 1, 1982: pg. C8.
- Morris, Bernadine. Fall Sportswear: A Wide Range of Themes. New York Times, May 3, 1985, pB10
- Morris, Bernadine. Paris in Perspective: Outdoors to Outrageous. New York Times, July 31, 1990: pg. B6
- Hochswedder, Woody, Reporter’s Notebook: In Paris, Ghastly Music and Frye Boots. New York Times, Mar 21, 1991: Pg. C10