Milan Fashion Week’s concise but busy schedule of runway shows and footwear and accessories presentations were chock full of new shoes. Many brands stayed true to the unwritten rule about fall and winter seasonal footwear: It’s all about the boot. They mostly came in over-the-knees with a relaxed shape, or slightly slimmer as a knee boot with a scrunched shaft or a foldover detailing. After last summer’s unexpected Western boot craze, the style was a staple in many collections and done to various degrees of heel height, shape and pizzazz.
Elsewhere, the pointed toe and stiletto heel were apparent as a pendulum swing from the soft comfort of rounded lines of platforms and chunky loafers. Those were still there, too, but less of the novelty of the week.
Here, a rundown of the 10 best shoes from Milan Fashion Week’s fall winter ’23 season.
1. Bottega Veneta’s minted over-the-knees
The brand’s runway show was overflowing with different shoe and bag styles (and other key accessories – intrecciato gloves, anyone?). There were carryover intrecciato over-the-knees, woven sock shoes with leather soles, metallic pumps with curved heels, high vamps and rubber soles, and delicately braided wrap sandals accented with golden cherries on the toes. Men’s footwear included a compelling braided leather Western style boot.
But it was a pair of over-the-knees done in a minty green with a cantilevered heel that summed up the magic of the collection. The boot also comes in a patent leather black and the cantilevered heel is also shown on a series of ankle boots. Expect to see this shape a lot come fall.
2. Giuseppe Zanotti’s best Western
There were plenty of Western boots in Milan — Italy’s love affair with the iconography goes back to its Spaghetti Western era in the mid 1960s. And while it’s easy to imagine that Giuseppe Zanotti would go full rhinestone cowgirl, the designer’s actual take on the trend was surprisingly tame, in smooth leather (black, white, red and bubblegum pink) with neat rows of round crystals on the Cuban heel — one of the best Westerns of the season.
3. Alexandre Birman’s fold over hemline boot
The Brazilian footwear impresario divides his namesake luxury line into a regular seasonal collection — full of dependable bestsellers — and a runway collection, where the brand can explore a more intricate and artisanal direction. The latter included this high-heeled tall leather boot with a corset-like lace-up motif and a fold over shape that mimics the hemline of a pair of perfectly tailored jeans or trousers; chic in shape, versatility and simplicity.
4. Gianvito Rossi curb link over-the-knees
Mr. Rossi is well known for his heeled sandals (the Portofino continues to be a bestseller for the brand, year after year). But the designer is now almost equally known by his customers as a purveyor of the season’s chicest boots, especially in knee and over-the-knee categories. The fall winter ’23 showing was no different and although the presentation collection was well edited, there was still plenty of variety and a balance of statement boots and seasonal staples. This white leather over-the-knee pair, accented with a simple but substantial curb-link anklet chain (it’s detachable) is the best of both worlds.
5. Jimmy Choo’s punk flats
It’s no surprise that the spirit of punk is coursing through fashion’s creative minds, with the recent death of Dame Vivienne Westwood. For fall winter ’23, Jimmy Choo joined the calling, adding tartan prints and diamond-shaped studs to everything from the expected combat boot to more ladylike ballet flats (also adorned with pearls) and glittering wedge tall boots. “Being a Brit, punk is everything,” creative director Sandra Choi told FN at the brand’s MFW presentation on Saturday. “It’s identity, it’s that dose of being different. This is about the merging of the two worlds, something princess-y mixing with punk.” This ballet flat with a tartan print, ankle straps, studs and pearl detailing is a powerful look packed into what is usually considered a tame shoe.
6. Prada’s paper art kitten heel
The chunky loafer may still be the brand’s bestselling shoe, but its brushed leather slingback pumps in varying heels have started to creep into street style shots more and more (that now-ubiquitous triangular logo on the toe may also have something to do with it). The Italian brand continued to look at the the pump for fall winter ’23, using kitten heels and flats with a pointed toe (a longtime favorite of Raf Simons over the years, at Prada but also during his tenure at Dior). Being Prada, there was a bit more to them: Shaped leather accents on the toe resembling paper folds and cutouts, some in flower motifs, like a decorated paper airplane or boat.
7. Casadei’s modern Westerns
Creative director Cesare Casadei was in Los Angeles last year when he noticed the summer’s biggest shoe trend: Westerns in hot weather. “They were everywhere, worn differently, so cool,” the designer noted at the brand’s fall winter ’23 presentation. Casadei incorporated the look into a style that is simple but interesting: with an easy pull-on ankle silhouette and Cuban heel and an intricately crackled leather detailing that gives an otherwise minimal boot just the right amount of flair.
8. AGL’s Greek columns
The AGL sisters (Sara, Vera and Marianna Giusti) put forth footwear and accessories that are delightfully quirky and increasingly strike a harmony in editorial and commercial viability with standout shapes and color palettes — this is no longer just a ballet flat brand. In addition to a collab the brand did with supermodel Kristen McMenamy, the fall ’23 collection continued to explore different heel options, from platforms to a series of stacked heels, included a Greek-column-inspired stacked heel (its ridges similar to the rubber sole of its popular and very comfortable Tania boot from previous season). It’s the heel and a uniquely curved fold over shape on this boot that perfectly showcase the AGL idiosyncrasy.
9. Ferragamo’s slick wedges
Salvatore Ferragamo invented the wedge heel in the 1930s, creating an entirely new type of shoe that is still being explored today in plenty of ways. Which was why it was delightful to see creative director Maximilian Davis do his own take on the wedge for fall winter ’23. Complementing a collection of sharp and polished ready-to-wear, a pair of lipstick red patent leather wedges with a slightly inverted heel — a subtle nod to the brand’s F heel invented in 1947 — pointed toe and double ankle strap took the wedge into a futuristic lens.
10. Haus of Honey’s Honey Bubble Mary Janes
Since launching in 2021, Stefano Miele’s Haus of Honey has found its niche putting forth subversive, avant-garde footwear that is just plain fun. It’s also very comfortable. The Honey Bubble sole was introduced for fall ’22 in a fleshy pink rubber, and it carries over into the fall winter ’23 collection, where it is once again done in an easy-to-wear, easy-to-buy Mary Jane style, both in all-black and a few in unexpected color combinations with the pink sole for the more adventurous. Miele (an alum of Prada, Miu Miu and Moschino) also introduced a high boot Honey Bubble, in all-black and pea-green-and-pink combo This is a sole and shoe shape that is worth another look.