As summer begins to ebb over us, it is time for fashion houses to begin displaying their Cruise Collections. Unlike the twice-yearly seasonal collections these brands produce, Cruise Collections are inter-season displays of ready-to-wear clothing—they
are what we can expect from these brands in fall as well as what we can wear now in the summer. Gucci stole headlines with an aflame runway and eerie sensations; Alexander Wang brought rock fashion back to the forefront, but two runways stood out perhaps less in what they showed and more in what they didn’t. In both Dior’s and LouisVuitton’s Cruise 2019, not one model wore heels across the runway; instead, they were dressed in sneakers and boots.
Under the helm of Maria Grazia Chiuri, Dior has taken a more political, women-empowering stance; at Dior Cruise last summer, the runway sported feminist re-imaginings of Tarot cards; the fashion house has also made T-shirts with feminist slogans as well as referencing the 60s, second-wave feminist movement in their shows. However, this year’s act of empowerment was much subtler. While models first rode in on horses, it was their feet that ended up being the place of importance: none of Dior’s female models donned heels. Instead, they walked confidently through the rain in boots and sneakers—shoes much more fitting for the created conditions. And then, three days later, none of Louis Vuitton’s
Cruise 2019 models did either.
The lack of heels at these two shows is a response to two major movements: luxury streetwear and female empowerment. While the latter sounds more important, it would not have reached the high-end fashion world had streetwear not first infiltrated it. We currently live in a world where a sneaker drop constitutes lines for hours, impassioned fans, and aggressive eBay battering. Sneakers are no
longer the ugly shoes your father wore to mow the lawn or you plod in at gym class; sneakers now have a place at the luxury fashion table—and not for cheap. As Demna Gvasalia, the creator of Vetements
and now Creative Director for Balenciaga, and Virgil Abloh, founder of Off White and now Artistic Director for Louis Vuitton’s menswear, move from street to high-end fashion, they are bringing urban aspects with them. Traditional fashion houses are now collabing and dropping sneakers in a comparable manner to recent “low-fashion” brands. The rise of streetwear has made kicks more luxury-mainstream and have pushed heels off to the side.
However, the real reason heels may be out this summer was displayed to us by Kristen Stewart at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. The actress has had a long history of swapping the classic red-carpet-heeled look for something more comfortable like Converse, but at Cannes, she went even further. This year, Stewart removed her heels and walked barefoot across the red carpet, telling Hollywood Reporter, “There’s definitely a distinct dress code, right?…If you’re not asking guys to wear heels and a dress, you cannot ask me either.” Heel’s while glamorous, are notorious for being
uncomfortable and feminine. Stewart’s rejection of being forced to be uncomfortable for beauty standards is a powerful statement about a woman’s right to choose what happens to her body. Dior and LV’s runways, while subtle, left out those images of feminine expectation. Women no longer have to wear heels—they can be fashionable and glamorous without them.
Heels have been an integral part of western fashion for centuries; to say they are going out of fashion or are ‘cancelled’ is foolish. They will always be a part of our style culture. However, Dior and Louis Vuitton’s Cruise Collections make it clear that they are no longer the rule or expectation for women. As fashion goes further and further into androgyny and gender non-conforming paths (Gucci’s show featured both female and male models), we can be sure to expect more subtle subversions.
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Dior Cruise, Louis Vuitton Cruise, Kristen Stewart: Heels are Out; Image credits: @dior on Instagram; @louisvuitton on Instagram; Tristan Fewings on GettyImages