Much has been said about women’s empowerment and how to actually achieve it, but when it comes to shoes and how they can empower women, the concept is tricky. What is a “Power Shoe”? Is it a shoe that makes the women feel on top of the world, or one in which a woman can get everything done (or a bit of both)? Is it a power pump with a stiletto heel that makes that “clack-clack” sound in a corporate office, a stylish sneaker that helps a woman run both literal and figurative marathons, or an elegant flat or midheel bootie that can go from day to night?
For our “Women in Power” issue, FN asked four women in fashion — designers Victoria Beckham, Tory Burch and Tabitha Simmons, plus one retailer, Barneys New York fashion director Marina Larroudé — to define their own Power Shoes.
The British fashion designer and former pop star — who did a workout in heels last year — has been back and forth on her preference for pumps, sneakers and flats, and said that her idea of a power shoe often changes. “My definition is dependent on the moment — different occasions call for different footwear options,” Beckham told FN. “For me, confidence comes from being comfortable in what you’re wearing. I’m as comfortable in a pair of sky-high saddle boots as I am in my trainers when I’m in the office or running around with the family.” The designer also has a collaboration with Reebok that is coming out this year.
Tory Burch will forever be known for logo-adorned flats, but when it comes to her own feet, the shoes that give the designer the most confidence are both sneakers and stilettos. “It’s about what makes you feel confident, regardless of style or heel height,” Burch told FN. “Sneakers or stilettos can have the same effect.” Outside of footwear, the designer has been active in empowering women through initiatives like her #EmbraceAmbition campaign, which came out last year.
The stylist, designer and editor is known for her ultrafeminine heels, and Simmons has adopted her own Alhambra pump — a style she makes every season — as the shoe that powers her day. “A power shoe is not defined by its silhouette or structure but in the feeling it evokes when you wear it. It is the shoe that insists you command a room, makes you feel beautiful but also invincible,” Simmons told FN. “Mine is our Alhambra pump, as I wear it from morning to night, work to event, and feel comfortable, strong and feminine.”
Between her role as fashion director at Barneys New York and her previous positions as a fashion and accessories editor at Teen Vogue and Style.com, Marina Larroudé has selected countless shoes for women to buy and wear, and she makes a point of trying them on herself, often showcasing them in action on her Instagram account. She defines a power shoe as one that “gives a woman a powerful and confident walk, one that fits like a glove and is secure enough on the foot that you can walk for miles without any stumbles,” Larroudé said. One of her go-tos that helps her get through the countless market appointments and fashion events? A stiletto sandal by Gianvito Rossi. “Like a good LBD, a stiletto sandal is a timeless classic. You can always go back to it.”