couture harling ross paris shoes man repeller
The Best Part of Couture Week Was Barely Visible

Last week saw fireworks of two varieties: those in the sky and those on the Paris Couture runways. It’s not a reach to describe the fashion at couture week as “explosive.” With clothes made by hand from ideation to completion, using the most luxurious fabrics and the most complex techniques, this category of design is an opportunity for copious WOW moments, not to mention eye-catching Instagram-bait. That’s why I was surprised to discover that my favorite thing to come out of couture week was also the hardest to spot.

I’m talking about the shoes. But not just any shoes! The shoes that you might miss entirely because the outfit they are paired with is a mouthwatering feat of aesthetic glory. The shoes that are nearly imperceptible until you catch a glimpse of something—an unexpected detail, a bloom of perfect contrast—that suddenly makes it impossible to think of anything else.

couture harling ross paris shoes man repeller

At Chanel, this phenomenon manifested in black patent leather loafers with subtly pointed toes and a high lip. They were styled with tweed evening gowns and ruched pedal pushers and sleepwear moonlighting as daywear, effectively making me question why I have more shoes than I have space to store them when all I really need is just this one. They reminded me of the Belgian shoes my mom wore in the 90s, which promptly sent me down a Google rabbit hole that led me to this eBay page where various Belgian shoe relics lie in wait, on sale. Very tempted by these but may hold out for an all-black pair.

couture harling ross paris shoes man repeller

At Dior, a similar magic arose thanks to the whisper-thinnest of gladiator sandals. I saw them paired with a beret and a short-sleeve trench and a single dangling earring and thought to myself, I would totally watch this remake of Sherlock Holmes. I saw them emerging delicately from black silk trousers enwrapped in a sweeping black cape and thought to myself, if Meryl Streep doesn’t wear this on the red carpet I will pound my fists on the barnacle-encrusted table of global injustices. I saw this $60 alternative on Shopbop and thought to myself, don’t mind if I do!

couture harling ross paris shoes man repeller

At Valentino, the translucent shoes were quite literally invisible, save for black, gold, and green bows that almost looked like they were floating next to models’ ankles. A trick made otherworldly by virtue of its simplicity, put forth in a context where‚—ironically—subtlety is actually more likely to stand out. There’s no better complement to the unseeable than the impossible-to-ignore, and there are few things more impossible to ignore than a coat bursting with thick yellow fringe. I’m not much of a DIY-er, but who am I to resist the temptation of tying this ribbon around these $48 clear sandals!?

What were your favorite takeaways from couture week, shoe-related or otherwise?

Photos via Vogue Runway and by Peter White, Stephane Cardinale – Corbis, and Victor VIRGILE via Getty Images. 

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