Laced-up luxe

Think python, lace, pearls and tweed: All allow for an individual fashion statement. Now think python, lace, pearls and tweed – on sneaks. They may sound like unlikely embellishments, but designers are embracing them as they take fancy athletic footwear from the runway to the red carpet to Rodeo Drive.

Gucci (patchwork leather), Chloé (suede) and Miu Miu (patent leather) are spearheading the trend to bring high fashion to high tops.

Meanwhile, stylish running shoes gave new meaning to “runway” this spring. For Paris Fashion Week, Dior’s Raf Simons replaced stilettos with his bubbly, beaded Amphibious shoes as surprised onlookers marveled. In Chanel’s spring-summer collection, models strutted the catwalk comfortably in a variety of pearly, blush, bouclé, quilted flat footwear.

Accessorizing tulle skirts, cocoon dresses and luxe gowns with these sneakers gave sophisticated models a more youthful, athletic appearance. Although heels have been the footwear norm for the fashion-forward, that hasn’t always been the case. During the early 1800s, women wore flat shoes with everyday and formal attire.

History certainly seems to be repeating itself as celebs like Rihanna, Beyoncé, Kate Bosworth and Ginnifer Goodwin lace up. Perhaps they’ve discovered that paired with polished spring menswear for women, the versatile, vibrant sneaks exude effortless appeal.

Fairfield County-based designer Stuart Weitzman would seem to second that. He brings a more sedate but equally luxurious style to casual footwear with his Henley Flat, the spectator-ish Zipit sneaker and the studded, vroom-vroom Cyclist sneak.

Not sure how you should incorporate the slip-on or lace-up into a look? Becky Hillyard of the style blog Cella Jane says, “When deciding on an outfit, I always say ‘less is more.’ So if your shoes have a lot going on, then simplify the rest of your outfit by pairing them with a simple black trouser pant and black crew sweater.”

Something can be said about sneakers making a statement. Not only are they easy on the feet (and more likely to preserve a pedicure), they offer a sense of empowerment. Isabel Marant, creator of the popular bootie-like wedge sneaker, has cited self-confidence as the inspiration for her design. So does Keds, which sprinkles an ad campaign with inspiring phrases like “Don’t change,” “Trust yourself” and “Take chances.”

Adds Hillyard, “I feel most empowered when I look like myself, comfortable in my style.”

And comfortable in sneakers, too. The moral of the story: Five-inch platforms aren’t the only way to make you feel like you’re on a platform.

For more from Becky Hillyard, visit

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