The slipper is having a moment: we can’t get enough of our new footwear crush. What started as a microtrend has risen from downtown cool to red carpet glamour. Now, they’re set to be the accessory of the summer. The new slipper is more luxury than loungewear, with emphasis on cool over cozy. Part loafer, part flat pump – this is a shoe that oozes class, not least because of its fashion heritage.
First worn in Japan in the 12th Century, slippers became a fashion hit when Prince Albert, Queen Victoria’s husband, donned velvet versions with silk lining and leather soles at black tie events. Soon the trend for ‘Albert’ slippers swept upper-class echelons and a trend was born. They’ve been a stalwart for moneyed gents since – from Howard Hughes to the Kennedys. The look was borrowed by screen sirens Katherine Hepburn and Marlene Dietrich in the 1930s, and renamed as ‘the smoking slipper’ when Yves Saint Laurent introduced his women’s tuxedo ‘le smoking’ in 1966.
No wonder a legion of style mavens are bringing them back: Alexa Chung, Amber Heard and Bonnie Wright have all been sporting the chic outfit updaters. What’s best about them? They’re effortless. Think of them as a big brother to the ballet flat and work them with sharp pants, standout skirts and summer dresses. An array of designers have revamped the classic: with studs at Jimmy Choo, skull motifs at Alexander McQueen and leopard print at Charlotte Olympia. While Miu Miu’s velvet embroidered slippers channel the look of Prince Albert – almost; what would he have thought of the crystal-studded heel?
Fashion, as they say, has come full circle.