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These high-fashion sneakers weren’t cute. They weren’t clever. They were just ugly.

September 10, 2018 at 10:40 AM

Escada Spring Summer 2019 Collection. (Jonas Gustavsson/MCV Photo for The Washington Post)

NEW YORK — There was no good reason for Escada to send high-top, pastel-colored sneakers down its spring 2019 runway Sunday afternoon. Those sneakers were not cool and they were not ironically ugly. They weren’t even so horribly grotesque as to make an intellectual argument about the definition of beauty, the rules of dress or some crazy esoteric point about gender or age or heck, the meaning of life.

They were just ugly.

Sneakers. At the Escada Spring Summer 2019 Collection. (Jonas Gustavsson/MCV Photo for The Washington Post)
Escada Spring Summer 2019 Collection. (Jonas Gustavsson/MCV Photo for The Washington Post)
Escada Spring Summer 2019 Collection. (Jonas Gustavsson/MCV Photo for The Washington Post)

But they did manage to underscore the fact that fashion companies are run by people, and people — no matter their age or background or store of good common sense — are not immune to peer pressure. And so when Escada celebrated 40 years of giving women suits in chipper colors and dressing them for the workday, it did so by offering up sneakers that look like giant, squishy marshmallows, and it did so mostly because fashion has declared sneakers cool.

Escada Spring Summer 2019 Collection. (Jonas Gustavsson/MCV Photo for The Washington Post)
Escada Spring Summer 2019 Collection. (Jonas Gustavsson/MCV Photo for The Washington Post)
Escada Spring Summer 2019 Collection. (Jonas Gustavsson/MCV Photo for The Washington Post)

The problem with the Escada sneakers, aside from the fact that they looked like a stack of Ladurée macarons, is that they were paired with suits cut in an ’80s silhouette, when jackets had squared-off shoulders and a boxy torso and were paired with knee-length skirts. Throw on gold chain belts and a few glittering brooches, and designer Niall Sloan made the models look as though they should be traipsing to the subway with teased-out hair and listening to Carly Simon singing “Let the River Run” on their Walkman.

It’s an admirable mission to cater to “working girls,” and more designers should, but those office stalwarts deserve clothes that makes them look accomplished and relevant and ready for the next rung up the corporate ladder and not like they are stuck in a time of floppy disks, pagers and Taylor Dayne.

Escada Spring Summer 2019 Collection. (Jonas Gustavsson/MCV Photo for The Washington Post)
Escada Spring Summer 2019 Collection. (Jonas Gustavsson/MCV Photo for The Washington Post)
Escada Spring Summer 2019 Collection. (Jonas Gustavsson/MCV Photo for The Washington Post)

The brand, founded by Margaretha and Wolfgang Ley, was named after a race horse, and the collection includes shirts in racing silks and prints of jockeys atop sprinting horses. But the broad strokes of the collection are pure 1980s, not a re-imagined version of the decade known for its Wall Street greed and runway ostentatiousness, but a near historical re-enactment of the era.

Fashion loves looking backwards for inspiration. Lots of designers do it. And do so to great effect. But just because the crowd is rifling through the past, doesn’t mean Escada should, too.

ALSO at New York Fashion Week:

Beautiful fashion for real people — and Sies Marjan makes it look easy

‘Stop calling 911 on the culture’: The powerful message Pyer Moss took to the fashion runway

The Kate Spade brand endures, in the bright, sparkly spirit of its founder. And yes, there are handbags.

Ralph Lauren’s sumptuous 50th anniversary show was the great American dream merchant at his finest

Everyone laughed at Thom Browne’s short pants. Now they’ve made him very rich.


Robin Givhan is a staff writer and The Washington Post's fashion critic, covering fashion as a business, as a cultural institution and as pure pleasure. A 2006 Pulitzer Prize winner for criticism, Givhan has also worked at Newsweek/Daily Beast, Vogue magazine and the Detroit Free Press.

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