Trainers might still be the footwear de rigueur when it comes to everyday wear but, with the party season approaching, a more dressed-up alternative is gracing fashionable feet. And if you’re someone from a certain generation you might have worn these before – because it’s the platform, that disco classic, that is back.
Platforms have been spotted on celebrities including Dua Lipa, Lady Gaga, Olivia Rodrigo and Beyoncé and they are increasingly a gender-neutral shoe. Following Marc Jacobs and Sam Smith, Tom Daley wore platforms on the red carpet last week.
There are several new brands making platforms for the modern era. Lady Gaga and Dua Lipa both wear D’Accori while Nodaleto is a favourite of fashion editors, and Naked Wolfe has been endorsed by Kourtney Kardashian.
Terry de Havilland, the British brand founded in the 70s, has enjoyed a new spell of success – particularly after Sarah-Jessica Parker wore the Lena Non-Stop Disco platform on the set of Sex and the City follow-up And Just Like That. “The platform heel is a big part of our brand,” says sales and marketing director Josh Spurling. “Our bestsellers over the last year have been the Zia and the new Lena Non-Stop Disco, both platform block heels.”
On the high street, designs by River Island, Asos and Kurt Geiger are popular. “Platforms are bigger and better than ever, and look to be key for spring/summer 2022,” says Rebecca Farrar-Hockley, chief creative officer of Kurt Geiger. “Our Vegan Franky heels amalgamate a towering block heel and platform with a hot pink satin upper for extra impact. These are party shoes with punch.”
Fashion writer Naomi Pike is a platform fan. “There’s a retro allure to them that has always kind of captivated me,” she says. Pike says she likes the stomp they have compared with other more “ladylike” high heels. “There’s definitely a bit of an attitude to them,” she says. “I carry that into the other areas of my personal style.”
Attitude, retro appeal and – crucially – comfort add up to make platforms the party shoe for 2021. “The great thing about a platform is you can have the high-heel height whilst still having a shoe that is stable and, most importantly, comfortable,” says Spurling.
They also fit into both a return of disco style – as endorsed by Lady Gaga in the run-up to The House of Gucci – and Gen Z’s favourite, the Y2K era. Platforms were worn by Victoria Beckham and Jennifer Aniston in the noughties.
In fact, platform shoes date back thousands of years – statues of fashionable Greek women from around 600 BC wear versions. Vertiginous chopine – up to a metre high – were a status symbol for socialites in 15th-century Venice, while wooden koma geta were worn by prostitutes in Japan from the 17th century onwards.
Platforms took off in mainstream fashion in the 30s – with designers including Salvatore Ferragamo and Roger Vivier making the shoes. They returned in the 70s, worn by the likes of Sister Sledge and Bianca Jagger. The shoes were genderless then, too – David Bowie, George Clinton and Marc Bolan wore platforms. Forty-odd years on, expect to see trainers retired after dark, and platforms become the choice across dancefloors and at parties once again. “If there were ever perfect shoes for a dancefloor,” says Spurling “these are them.”