By now, the idea of building a look from the ground up with a box-fresh pair of sneakers is almost second nature. You don’t have to search much further than the street-style blogosphere to know that the coolest girls are putting their best foot forward in pinstripe suits and spanking-new white trainers, for example. (And if the couture shows are anything to go by, then we’re likely to see a spree of bejeweled running shoes on the red carpet any day now.) That being said, the latest incarnation of the fashion sneaker takes that reliable well-cushioned look to bold new heights quite literally, begging the question: Can you wear the knee-high sneaker boot in real life? Designer Riccardo Tisci designed one such style for his recent collaboration with Nike and insists the answer is a resounding yes. “When I designed this collection for Nike, I had a girl wearing a Victorian dress and these sneakers in my mind’s eye,” he said.
Tisci realized that vision with the help of photographers Inez and Vinoodh and _Vogue’_s Creative Director Grace Coddington in the pages of the magazine. And if you flip through the February issue, it’s hard to miss the picture of Joan Smalls in a beautiful antique white dress and the towering knee-high standout boot. As a sneaker purist, my first impression of the hybrid wasn’t love at first sight.
But the gorgeous image was enough to inspire this attempt (pictured) to re-create the look on a basketball court in Brooklyn one drizzly morning this past weekend. Overall, the mise-en-scène turned quite a few heads in the neighborhood. Although I think most passersby were more impressed with the architecture of the boot than they were with the handiwork of my turn-of-the-century tea dress—much less my moves on the court.
Ultimately, though, the DIY photo shoot got me thinking about how I could make the look work outside the framework of a fashion spread. “I can see you wearing them with a great cropped pant,” said _Vogue’_s Fashion News Director Mark Holgate weighing in on my style conundrum. “Remember how well that worked in the Marc by Marc Jacobs collection?” It didn’t take much more to jog my memory. The show itself had been a standout moment of the season, and Katie Hillier and Luella Bartley had done a fantastic job as the label’s new creative directors. Mounted on a superspringy sole, their version of the shoe leveled off mid-calf and was worn ninja-style with gauchos and tucked-in judo pants. It’s an idea that was rendered chicer still at Chanel, where models strolled the supermarket-style runway in signature tweed suits and iridescent knee-high sneakers; even flirty wasp-waisted evening dresses were worn with the boot. Personally, I have no plans to step out for the night in sporty knee-highs just yet, but I am currently on the hunt for the right crop pant to make them sing for everyday. After a lifetime of low-top tennis shoes, surely the only way is up.