Side by Side: Roman Empire
It’s hard to believe Russell Crowe is partly responsible for the fashion world’s love affair with all things gladiator-inspired, but his Oscar-winning role as a mortal combat fighter at the height of the Roman empire rekindled designers’ love of the ventilated lace-up. If the ‘60s had been the gladiator’s last epic fashion moment due to its popularity with both mods and hippies, Crowe’s 60s-inspired blockbuster brought the Coliseum back into the minds of couture makers. By 2013 Crowe’s Les Miserables costar, the notoriously sophisticated Anne Hathaway, was the one wearing the gladiator boots, this time on the red carpet and with a dominatrix-inspired Tom Ford twist, paired with a black gown.
Look 1 Work-to-Play: No longer for just the boho enthusiast, gladiators have made their way into the tailored wardrobes of Gwyneth Paltrow, Diane Kruger, and Kate Bosworth. Laced all the way to the knee on spring/summer 2015 runways for Chloe, Alexander McQueen, and Ginvenchy, the neutral toned gladiator isn’t as explicitly sexy as black knee-highs, but it’s muted aesthetic creates a sultry peek-a-boo effect that’s – bonus points — also suitable for the office. With a two-inch heel, it’s knee-high length is less intimidating for the more vertically challenged who appreciate the length a heel adds. It’s easy to go from the boardroom to the bar wearing a simple floral dress, which doesn’t get overshadowed by the sandal thanks to the hue.
Look 2 Model Off Duty: If Pretty Woman ruined the idea of wearing knee-high boots with short shirts and dresses for you for most of the 90s, it’s time to enter the 21st century where statement boots aren’t code for what your LinkedIn page can’t say. In fact, you can even opt for knee-highs in the summer on a lazy afternoon on the boardwalk. The Madonna of footwear — quintessential yet cutting edge, retro but risque, timeless yet always transforming—the gladiator is more versatile than it gets credit for. Kendall Jenner just made fashion headlines rocking a sexy black above-the-knee pair courtside at a Lakers game, and Rihanna notoriously wore her nude Tom Fords out on the town in true street style form. Take the same relaxed yet daring approach by pairing neutral glads with patterned short-shorts and a long-sleeve top in a contrasting print.
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