Making sense of the fall ’21 season and all of its virtual shows is not easy, especially in a time of continued uncertainty.
But one thing is certain: A great shoe is a great shoe, no matter the time or circumstance. That is, after all, why sales of high heels and other evening shoes continue to be strong for some brands, with customers buying not just for the way we used to wear shoes but for the appreciation of looking at it, holding it, and maybe only putting on a pair at home even just for a few minutes.
Which is why there was no shortage of great shoes at Milan Fashion Week’s fall ’21 season, regardless of any anxiety or ambiguity surrounding the fashion industry and what it and fashion itself will look like in the coming months and years.
Here, the top 10 shoes of Milan Fashion Week, purely for the appreciation of their beauty, craftsmanship and inherent allure.
1. Prada’s knitwear platform boot
As if the ASMR-like set design wasn’t enough, Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons added tactile touches to all sorts of bits and pieces in the collection, including the platform boots. They came in sleek black leather and a few colorful options but the most compelling was a pair with attached stockings, both boot and hosiery done in a groovy black-and-yellow knit pattern that looks simultaneously directional and comfy.
2. Giannico’s colorful metallic boot
Sometimes, you just need something fun, and at no time has that statement been more true than right now. Giannico’s high-heeled booties, which hit at mid-calf and come in both a pumpkin- and a raspberry-hued snake-embossed metallic leather, are like little punctuation marks of joy.
3. Tod’s platform loafer
The platform loafer might be an Italian specialty (in the country’s general specialty of footwear), and the most compelling came from the 1920’s-founded Italian heritage brand, in a vibrant cerulean leather with tone-on-tone stitching and a stacked wooden heel, dyed to match the blue upper.
4. Giuseppe Zanotti’s aerodynamic wedge
Fall ’21 marks a return to dressing up (and maybe having some fun with it), and the Italian shoe designer rose to the occasion with an electric metallic blue wedge sandal, featuring an ankle strap and an exaggerated heel detail that looks like a spoiler on a racing car.
5. Valentino’s new combat boot
There is no doubt that the of the “real” shoes (i.e. not slippers or slides) that have populated the past year, the combat boot (also known as the eerily foreshadowed apocalyptic boot) has been one of the only in the game. While Valentino debuted its version for fall ’20 a year ago, its new collection has a chic update, with a puffy croc-embossed leather boot that hits below the knee and packs a lot of punch.
6. Fendi’s perfect brown boot
Sleek dark boots — with a real heel — are a must for the season, and Fendi did plenty of them for fall ’21, under the new direction of Kim Jones. Just as the artistic director debuted his collection as a building block to establishing a new chapter for the Italian brand, so too can a chic, sleek dark boot help to rebuild a real wardrobe after a year of sweatpants and slippers.
7. Santoni’s perfect black boot
While the perfect brown boot should be sleek and minimal in accoutrement, the perfect black boot needs a little something extra. Santoni’s version for fall ’21 has just that, with a subtle Western-style collar and a Cuban heel that sets it apart but is still incredibly versatile.
8. Ferragamo’s retro-futuristic
For a collection inspired by ’90s sci-fi films, creative director Paul Andrew looked even further into the past — circa 1947 — to bring a new interpretation to the brand’s iconic F-heel, which he married to metallic leather and a square-toed pump silhouette for past, present and future.
9. Marni’s ruffled scuba boots
Aside from a wild take on Kamala Harris’s favorite shoe, Marni’s fall ’21 collection had a series of high-heeled boots done in a scuba material that, when unzipped, folded like a series of ruffles; an elegant way to style sportswear.
10. Moschino’s purse-in-boots
In a look that reimagined Marilyn Monroe’s iconic pink gown from “Gentleman Prefer Blondes,” creative director Jeremy Scott made a handbag out of a matching pink satin boot — and a thigh-high pink satin boot with a vintage coin purse motif pull strap. The boot-purse duo is just the sort of lighthearted fashion that the world needs right now.