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The rise and fall (and rise again) of the iconic cowboy boot

The cowboy boot is a rare breed of fashion accessory in that it has managed to morph into all manner of guises over the decades: from the Midwestern styles of the 19th century, to being worn over Princess Di’s preppy jeans in the early ’90s, to the toe-tapping Y2K versions in Madonna’s ‘Don’t Tell Me’ music video, all the way to the new-gen styles that hit the runway at Louis Vuitton’s autumn/winter 2024 menswear show.

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You know a shoe has mass appeal when it’s embraced by presidents and Dolly Parton alike.They’ve been practical and they’ve been camp, but cowboy boots have always remained democratic in their appeal. “My silver leather Fendi autumn/winter 2018 cowboy boots are a long time summer wardrobe staple, they’ve stomped across festival sites and parks, and taken me to al fresco dinners,” says Laura Hawkins, Vogue’s acting European associate fashion features director. “There’s something about the subtly elevating heel height and flattering shape that is sophisticated yet fun, and feels like a perfect wear-all-day shoe that bridges the gap between a sneaker and a summer heel.


”We spotted one show-goer at Copenhagen Fashion Week who, like Laura, embraced the campy qualities of a metallic cowboy boot, using hers to elevate her jeans and sporty top. Simple, but oh so effective. The more classic, elaborately embroidered boots are a great way to inject personality into any outfit, be it a maxi dress or jeans, midi-skirt or shorts. You can experiment with different finishes to achieve runway, where a model toted a sleek black, Western-inspired boot (note the buckle and capped toe) with anankle-skimming, white lace dress and leather bomber jacket.

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Whether you go statement or subdued, a cowboy boot is for life. There are plenty of sturdy second-hand versions to be found both online and in bricks and mortar stores –perfect for that authentically weathered look – but if you’re searching for a new pair, you can’t go wrong with Ganni for the classic cowboy look.

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For the subtlest nod to the Midwest, meanwhile, try Aeyde or Prada. your required look: faded brown suede, colourful stitching or a pop of animal print – we’ve also seen a number of snake print versions around this season. Laura Ingham, the deputy director of Vogue’s global fashion network,meanwhile, has invested in a more minimalist spin, courtesy of Bottega Veneta. “Cut to the ankle with a wedge heel and square toe, Bottega Veneta’s ankle boots have a Western-inspired silhouette which hits all the right notes,”she explains. The beauty of a more subdued style is that it eliminates the risk of looking too “cowboy cosplay”.Take Celine’s spring/summer 2024.

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