Italian luxury fashion brand Valentino has released its Spring/ Summer 2022 women’s shoe collection, which appears to be heavily inspired by the footwear of the ancient Greeks and Romans.
The new seasons’ sandals such as the Rockstud No Limit Nappa Flat Sandal and the One Stud Calfskin Flat Sandal feature antique brass-effect studs and fasten at the knee or ankle, reminiscent of those worn by ancient Greeks and the Roman gladiators.
The word sandal, in fact, comes from the ancient Greek word σάνδαλον (sándalon).
For the Ancient Greeks, sandals were the most common style of footwear worn by both men and women.
With soles made of several layers of cattle hide and the top usually of coloured leather, just like Valentino’s latest designs, the sandals featured a multitude of straps by which they were firmly fastened to the feet.
There were two types of sandals worn by Ancient Greeks, being the páxeia – made of willow leaves or twigs and worn by comic actors and philosophers; and the κόθορνος: a boot sandal with a sole sometimes made much thicker with slices of cork to add to the wearer’s stature and that extended above the middle of the leg, worn primarily by tragic actors, horsemen, hunters, and by men of rank and authority.
One only needs to look to Greek mythology to find evidence that sandals were a very important aspect of Ancient Greek attire, worn by the Greek gods and mortals alike.
Hermes, the herald of the Olympians, wore winged sandals that enabled him to fly and deliver messages to the Greek gods.
So tightly entwined into the Greek culture were sandals that they inspired many artists and sculptors, featuring heavily in their creations.
Take, for example, the intriguing statue of Aphrodite, Pan and Eros that is today housed at the National Archaeological Museum in Athens. The goddess Aphrodite seems to be fighting off the lecherous Pan by threatening him with her sandal.
Another example is the sculpture of the Temple of Goddess Athena of Nike, whereby the likeness of Athena is captured as she is in the midst of putting on her sandal.
And who could forget the west part of the Parthenon Frieze, where the famous architect Phidias sculpted the figure of a young man fastening his sandal.
Whilst clearly a fashion staple in Ancient Greece, at the same time in Ancient Rome, sandals were carved with elaborate designs and worn both by citizens and by Roman gladiators who would wear them into battle.
In the aftermath of the French revolution of 1789, when the world began to look to the ancient Greece and Rome cultures for inspiration, the most fashionable women started to wear sandals.
Although they have never entirely gone out of style, these ancient sandals have now been touted as a key fashion trend for 2022.
From statement knee-high versions like Valentino’s Rockstud No Limit Nappa Flat Sandal to more easy-to-wear ankle strap designs, Spring/ Summer 2022 collections everywhere are defined by their multi-strap detail, featuring all kinds of iterations.
In addition to the Valentino collection, stand-out variations have been featured at fashion shows by the likes of Alberta Ferretti, Chloé, Dior, Paco Rabanne, and Ports 1961.
And so it comes to pass that the never-out-of-style σάνδαλον (sandal) comes stepping out of ancient times, onto the runway, into the wardrobes of global superstars like Zendaya - and perhaps if you are lucky, into your wardrobe too.