The Explosion and Preservation of the Ballet Flat

Paris did and continues to do it right when it comes to the ballet flat. It was at the Paris Opera Ballet in the mid 18th century that Marie Camargo wore a heeless ballet flat on stage, quickly setting the stage for the elimination of heeled ballet slippers all together. Yes, while we may hate to admit it, we have yet another thing to be grateful to the French for. As ballet flats were taken from the stage and onto the streets Paris has always kept it simple and true to its original form. Conforming maybe to color trends by adding some metallic and snake skin options but they would never rid themselves of the buttery soft leather and delicate bow, which makes this flat so iconic. In fact Parisians, as with most new things, would probably find the Tory Burch interpretation of the ballet flat that has taken the world by arms, quite ghastly. Not only do Parisians continue to embrace the same ballet flat shape that has in essence existed since at least the 16th century, in which men wore a similar shoe (times have changed!) or more recognizably since they made they’re big coming out in Funny Face when Audrey Hepburn made them as fashionable as they are today, Paris has also maintained the shoe’s comfort. As anyone close to me will tell you I have been cursed with the most problematic feet when it comes to finding flats that won’t butcher my feet—to the point where I can honestly say heels are often more comfortable than flats. The main problem is that most flats in the U.S. are made with terribly stiff backs (the part that goes around your heel) and continually dig into my skin with every step. If that isn’t the problem then surely there will be one around my toes. As with the Tory Burch flat, I mentioned before there has been a wave of flats to hit the market that have the stretch back: Vera Wang’s lavender label, Tory Burch, Banana Republic, and although I hate to include a French label in this category the infamous Lanvin, who most likely coined the style—these are NOT comfortable. Of the four mentioned above I will say that both Lanvin and Banana made an incredibly cushioned flat that I tried, I really tried to break in—I was left blister free but due to an unattended ingrown toe nail the pinching irritated me so that I was left in excruciating pain after an hour in these.  All of this searching left me craving a ballet flat I could wear, and I mean really wear, wear all day even–Paris delivered.  The classic Parisian flat which can be found for as little as 35 euros is made from abuttery soft leather that never blisters your feet and gives so there is no pinching around the toes—they are quite literally slippers. Beyond the comfort of this flat, what I love is that Parisian stores, brands and designers are tres loyal to this style, no matter what the competition presents brands like Repetto and Bolch among other long standing French shoe brands continue to make the same shape season after season. of course they add unique styles to this class shape (such as star cut outs, metallic prints and sequins. And it’s not just the brands that remain loyal to this classic shape it’s also the Parisian women themselves of all ages. I could scoop up a pair in every color and quite literally sleep in them—I applaud Paris for rejecting change when it came to the Ballet Flat—this time Paris was right to think “We’ve done it the best”!

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