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157: Babouche boots all season long
Flattened boots and a shoppable chronology of how we got here.
So. After a lot of research and deliberation, I’ve finally synthesized a solid outlook on what the boot silhouette of the season will be, and with it, a shopping list.
The style is characterized by a smushed-down toe box that looks like it’s been met with a hammer or a rolling pin, sometimes flat all the way across the bottom, other times with a small or even substantial heel. They are, in effect, babouche slippers—just like the leather Nisolos I wear around the house and on quick errands or similarly good ones from Sabah—that carry on wrapping around the ankle and up the calf.
As they start to emerge on retailer new arrivals pages from brands whose perspectives on footwear mean something, it’s interesting to think that babouche boots were a little bit inevitable: clearly an extension of the ballet-flat wave of summer that brought our soles as close to the ground as they’ve been in years, with the path cleared by last year’s most common boot characteristics (square toe, low stacked heel).
It’s a bit early to get too excited about it, but FWIW the babouche has already signed on for another season, with Tove, Rachel Comey, and Ferragamo sending really, very—like fashion month-defining—good flattened toes down their spring runways.
Anyway, onward to it.
short babouche boots
¹Slight variations among babouche boots can sway their energy vastly—these Marséll ones have a slightly pointier tip, which lends some Antwerp Six-ism, or maybe it’s Slimane…something to hold onto when getting dressed; ²a pair from Act Series (also avail in Butter) that are a little more boxy at the tip, but with such clean, satisfying lines I have to include them; ³a category-defining pair from The Row, (who else?) known as Ava feature a v-opening at the inner ankle precluding the need for a zipper (they also come in brown); ⁴these Le Monde Beryl ones are almost a dupe for The Row Avas, with a zipper going up the back (here they are in sheer mesh); ⁵a sublimely lifted version from Jil Sander that proves heel placement can make all the difference; ⁶and I know I said some skeptical things about the new Phoebe Philo but with, one, the timeliness, and two, that toe tip that looks like it’s been met with an asphalt roller, I couldn’t not include these ankle boots that also demonstrate how the style is done with a full-on heel.
tall babouche boots
These techy The Row boots deviate somewhat into “sock boot” territory, of gorp’s new feminine ilk, but the kindred downward-pointed toe qualifies them; another pair from The Row (and? what of it?), these Bette leather flats are basically a taller version of the Avas above; followed by a slightly taller version still from Proenza Schouler (in short supply, FYI); I called out these Jil Sanders a few weeks ago as indicative of a greater boot movement I was still decoding, and here they are once more (also in tan), presented anew in the light of that mystery unwrapped; and one last pair of Jils, a tall, decorated version of the heeled ankle pair above.
The babouche boot owes much to the shoes that strode before it—the cowboyish Khaite Marfas with their nipped square toe come to mind; so, too, do the Toteme Riding boots, which are even squarer and flatter; the By Far Edie boots, though, have to be the purest precursor to the current silhouette out of everything we saw last year, the toe shape just centimeters off from know-it-when-I-see-it babouche proportions; new for this season, but more aligned with last year’s styles are Staud’s Wally boots (more affordable, too, at under $500); then of course came the barriage of flats, led by many an Alaia ballerina like these back-in-stock-for-now studded ones; credit to Lemaire whose Derby shoes have exactly expressed the flatness I so especially love about this new class of babouche boots, particularly apparent when peeking out from beneath a pair of oversized pants; and to Margiela, whose Tabi babouche loafers commanded their own wave, what was it…two, three summers ago?
and other great seasonal contenders.
¹Tabi boots aren’t going anywhere; ²I’m kind of loving this desert storm boot thing that’s happening as well, and these Lauren Manoogians are the best iteration of them IMO (picture with lots of layered knits); ³Marséll’s rustic style is creeping inward from the fringes of the boot universe—this brand will only get more popular; ⁴these Brunello Cucinellis! I just like them; ⁵J.W. has almost guaranteed the popularity of these hay-like Chelsea boots that’re already selling out on Net; ⁶and I’ve spoken on these Veronica De Piante boots multiple times now—they’re a simple silhouette of extraordinary quality, what more is there to want?
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