Versatile and elegant, ballet flats have been a fashion staple through the decades.
Taking inspiration from the very same dance form it’s named after, the ballet flat made its debut on stage before making the transition to the streets.
It was in 1680 at the Royal Academy of Dance in France that the first ballet shoe with a heel made its first appearance on stage. At the time, the art form placed emphasis on elongating dancers’ silhouettes, so functionality took a back seat to fashion. As a result, the shoes were severely impractical to perform in.
Until the late 1720s, when Marie Camargo became the first woman to shift from heeled shoes to a more flat, slipper-like design that made her intricate and elegant choreography simpler to perfect. Other sources credit the shoe revolution to Marie-Anne de Cupis de Camargo, a famous French ballerina responsible for numerous technical innovations within the realm of ballet. Whether she was the first to do a pair of slipper-like shoes during her performances or not, she certainly aided in popularising the new style. And, to this day, ballerinas use this simpler style.
The shoe made its way from stage to street in 1947 when Italian designer, Rose Repetto, created the ballet flat for her dancer and choreographer son after admiring the sleek look of the slippers. Rising to a cult following, the shoes became one of the biggest trends among the Paris Opera Ballet dancers. Pretty soon after that, across the pond in Hollywood, stars like Brigitte Bardot and Audrey Hepburn turned the stylish flat into a classic wardrobe must-have.
If you were to ask anyone who was around during the 2000s era of fashion, they may not associate the heel-less pumps with high fashion. More likely, they may have memories of ballet flats being paired with three quarter lace leggings, pleated plaid skirts and graphic t-shirts. Fast-forward to 2022, this shoe inspired by the world of dance has surprised us all by re-emerging as an “it” shoe.
Celine, Dior, and Chanel are some of the more prominent designer brands that have received Influencer and celebrity recognition for their iconic shoes. Fashion girls and Pinterest prowlers have since hopped on the bandwagon, spawning outfit after outfit that’s effortlessly chic and with that cool-girl Parisienne look everyone’s been after.
Chanel’s two-toned nude and black pump with a miniature heel is the most coveted of the lot with its ease for pairing with anything from cropped jeans and linen shirts to chic party dresses. However, more glamorous designs are also on the rise, boasting jewel-encrusted emblems, tweed, glossy patent leather and velvet have been used to enhance the elegance of the shoes. With ankle straps, silk bows and other embellishments.
Part of the ballet flat’s popularity is its ability to seamlessly fit onto one's existing wardrobe. Much like white sneakers, as long as you have the basics, there is no need for going out of your way to style the shoes. Whether you’re going for formal or something a little more casual, the pumps flawlessly transition from event to event. And, while the shoe style may seem like a fad, this trend is sure to stick around for a while like skinny jeans, white t-shirts and leather jackets, pumps make a great addition to capsule wardrobes.
This was originally published on IOL.