While the cap-toe heel might have reached the pinnacle of its current go-round last fall when the style — made famous by Chanel — celebrated its 50th anniversary, cap-toes are far from passe. The classic shoe maintains its timeless appeal, its buttoned-up two-toned crispness.
Indeed, the style can be traced back to co-respondent shoes (so called for their two colors), worn by hunters and sportsmen. By the 1880s this style morphed into fashion trends, reinterpreted as the spectators and the wingtips favored by golfers, dancers and jazz-era gangsters.
It makes sense that Coco Chanel — the designer who reinvented women’s fashion with an eye toward comfort and menswear details (pea coats, bellbottoms, cardigan suits) — would translate the masculine cap-toe shoe into something intrinsically feminine.
But, even as the abiding shoe design proved its longevity by hitting the mid-century mark, Chanel itself took some serious liberties with the straight-forward cap-toe. The company turned out both a metallic patent calfskin pump and ballet flat with a cap-toe and elastic edge in its Fall 2008 collection. These stand out as edgier, Goth-inspired updates to the collection’s primmer cream-and-black cap-toe t-strap and lambskin cap-toe pump.
Though there may be nothing new under the sun, fashion designers never seem to tire of rethinking classic forms. If 2007 was the big come back for the cap-toes, 2008 seems to be the year to re-imagine the shoe in its most futuristic, envelope-pushing incarnations.
With a name like Naughty Monkey, the unexpected should probably be expected. And yet. The company’s perhaps ironically-named Elegant Rider incorporates a stacked heel, cheetah-print toe cap, Mary Jane strap and chain link detail into what barely translates as a once-somber pump.
High-end designer Giuseppe Zanotti’s pump goes decidedly punk with all-over mini-studs and a shiny metallic toe.And British shoe company Clarks (a name synonymous with comfort) employed its artsy branch, Indigo, to design the nice-meets-naughty Amaze style. A sweet Mary Jane strap and demure heel meets wild-at-heart croc-print toe and heel caps. After all, even nice girls (and their shoe collections) like to shake things up.
Coco herself probably would have been proud.