Publisher’s note: Mari Rodríguez Ichaso has been a contributor to Vanidades magazine for several decades. She is a specialist in fashion, travel, gastronomy, art, architecture and entertainment, a film producer and a style columnist for CNN en Español. The opinions expressed in this column are solely his own. Read more opinion pieces at cnne.com/opinion.
(CNN Spanish) — If you’ve looked closely, espadrilles are the latest fashion and many more famous and super expensive brands have launched countless models of espadrilles. They are the shoes for summer 2022, which go with all styles of clothing —and their popularity is due to their look— and their comfort!
Personally, I wear them all my life, and I love seeing how famous and much admired women today for their style, such as Kate, Duchess of Cambridge and Queen Letizia of Spain, wear them often. That without forgetting that famous men, such as Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dalí and Don Johnson, in the TV series “Miami Vice”, were also fans of this popular shoe!
The history of espadrilles
Espadrilles were used for hundreds of years and many farmers and field workers in Spain, Portugal – as well as fishermen in France and Italy – made espadrilles or espadrilles their usual footwear. And even in the southern cone the gauchos have used them. Already in 1850, in Buenos Aires there were many families who earned their living making espadrilles, which for years were considered the footwear of the humblest.
According to the experts at the famous Hernanz espadrille shop in Madrid (founded in 1845), this type of footwear dates back to ancient Egypt and then to ancient Rome. And the word alpargat comes from Arabic, because the Muslims of the Arab empire al-Andalus, in what is now Spain, called them that. The first espadrilles manufacturers in Spain used these prototypes 4,000 years ago. And a collection of ancient espadrilles are exhibited in the Archaeological Museum of Granada.
A curious data? Around the year 1300, the soldiers of the Crown of Aragon used them for their comfort and freshness.
The culprit was Saint Laurent
Already in the 1950s, some Hollywood celebrities wore versions of espadrilles, or shoes with esparto or jute soles, but it was the great designer Yves Saint Laurent who made them famous in international fashion in the 1970s – after an encounter with the Spaniards Lorenzo Castañer and Isabel Sauras, who knew how to interpret the designer’s ideas – when he launched espadrilles with wedges, or platforms, in his summer collections. And he “put on the map” what until then was a popular and rather humble shoe, without much importance. Other celebrities who love espadrilles? Jennifer Aniston, Elle Macpherson, Kim Kardashian, Reese Witherspoon, Eva Mendes and Pippa Middleton, Kate’s very stylish sister.
In 2022 they are madness
Little by little, espadrilles became a coveted object in fashion and with a chic and at the same time informal or relaxed image. And this brings us to 2022, and the hundreds of models of all kinds – and at all prices – that are on the market. A marvel!
The canvas or cotton espadrille with jute soles, which we tie to the ankle with cotton ribbons, are the classics. But there are already many made with leather or suede, with flat jute soles, with a “wedge” or platform style. Others are flat ballerina shoes with thick jute soles. And (my favorites) those with crossed elastics instead of being tied with traditional ribbons. On a recent trip to St.
Jean-de-Luz, in the Basque area of France, I found beautiful models of this style, especially stripes, which look fabulous.
Famous brands such as Gucci, Bottega Veneta, Missoni, Emilio Pucci, Dolce Gabbana, Dior, Christian Louboutin, Jimmy Choo, Stuart Weitzman (designed by the Puerto Rican designer Edmundo Castillo) and the Spanish Castañer –Kate and Letizia use many of their models–, They have launched countless models in all colors, styles and prices, from the cheapest, with an average of between US$30 to US$40, to the super expensive ones like Chanel, which can cost more than US$1,300. . And even Ferragamo has designed a high platform espadrille with its brand’s iconic buckle on the upper of the design!