I rediscovered a year-end review of 1992 fashion in a copy of Footwear News recently that was more interesting than I thought it would be when I started reading… I have edited it considerably because it was a little too heavy in shoe biz news, but here is what fashion was talking about twenty years ago:
“It was a year Queen Elizabeth called “annus horribilis,” as she watched the public disintegration of the marriages of her children…”The economy, stupid,” was the other catchphrase of the year – it helped get Bill Clinton elected. Hurricane Andrew devastated Florida, there was famine in Somalia, riots in Los Angeles, and senseless killings in Yugoslavia. Some old faces disappeared: Jose Ferrar, Tony Perkins, Chuck Connors, Vincent Gardenia and Marlene Dietrich… In the shoe world, the year started off on a sad note with the death of David Evins in January. Evins was the dean of American shoe designers, famous for creating shoes for movie stars, socialites and First Ladies.
Manufacturers devoted a lot of their energies to introducing lower-priced lines during the year. Macy’s filed for Chapter 11 protection and the Melville Corporation planned to close 350 of its 750 Thom McAn stores but the feeling was that while retail business wasn’t great it wasn’t as ‘horribilis’ as last year and the economy was on the comeback. Intershoe also filed a Chapter 11 petition and received an offer from an Italian-based investor group which was accepted (after initial restructuring, the reins were passed in December 1992 to Joe Famolare.)
Fashion started at the bottom with platforms, and heavy tractor and lug-soles. “Take a hike” was the rugged boot message at the Las Vegas shoe show in February. The mood for nostalgia was strong with ’40s, ’60s and ’70s themes invading shoes and clothes. Doc Martens went mainstream. Zippers were a hot fashion look along with laceups and Granny boots. Red and black was a popular combination.
Spring fashions featured fur, houndstooth checks and sheer fabrics. Studded biker boots were featured footwear fashions and platform power reigned at the Milan and Paris shows. Chanel combined sheer clothes with lace-up combat boots. Longer hemlines were becoming a reality but “options” was the word of choice to describe long, short and the alternative of pants.
In summer, espadrilles were the hot fashion feature as well as wedge soles. Mesh was a strong material story in summer high fashion footwear, echoing the sheers of rtw. Western boots were becoming year ’round fashions. Vintage shoes (the real thing) were hot items in Paris. In America the trendy thing to do was buy used Western boots.
New shoe news included: St. John’s opened its first store in New York with shoes made by Pancaldi; A-Line (a cheaper line for Anne Klein) and Just Libby (a cheaper line from Sam & Libby) debuted; Ombeline was Maud Frizon’s new line; Roger Vivier began designing again through the Delman division of Nina in New York; Andrea Pfister introduced a high fashion sneaker line, and Studio Paolo added a group of lower priced casuals made in China.
Hip Hop was the fashion look featured for men in September. For women, fall was under the influence of American Indian designs on mocs, slides and sandals. Folkloric (’70s) influences were seen interpreted in love beads, wrapper silhouettes, and batik and African print fabrics. Bell bottoms were a hot rtw trend in European collections. Seventies round toes, strong heels, oddly shaped heels, clogs and a variety of platforms and bottoms were shoe tie-ins.
The Fashion Footwear Association of New York had honored Marc Jacobs earlier in the year and for fall Jacobs collection for Perry Ellis showed satin Birkenstocks, cowboy boots, and Converse satin high top sneakers – he also was a proponent of the mix-and-match grunge look.”