It's an anecdote that we've all heard come up in conversation at a cocktail party: high-heeled shoes historically weren't always so gendered. Heels were an indication of status for 18th century Frenchmen, famously sported by King Louis XIV in royal portraits (the higher the heel the closer to God). After a few populist revolutions and shifts in global power, high-heels were reintroduced in the 20th century as a sex symbol, exclusively worn by women, garnering the connotation they have maintained until today. As more runways and labels begin to embrace a more fluid definition of gender it may be the right to reexamine the high-heel and liberate it from the gender binary.
Italian luxury footwear designer Francesco Russo is hoping to lead the way in inclusive stilettos with their new aptly named capsule collection "A-Gender." The three piece collection features an open- and a closed-toe stiletto, a Chelsea boot, a tasseled loafer, and a lace-up dress shoe all available in extended sizes for those of us who struggle to fit in anything bellow an Italian size 44.
"It's not a polemic, it's not political. It's simply how society is moving forward. I think it's in our duty as people who produce product to respond to the world," Russo explained to Vogue. "Between the gender you are born with and the identity you have, there are a thousand shades of gray."
In a perfect fit, Russo tapped nonbinary model Oslo Grace for the collection's new campaign. Having modeled menswear and womenswear on runways around the world, their youthful androgyny proves that shoes can really make the whole look.
Photo Courtesy of Francesco Russo