There’s a well-known paparazzi photograph of Prince at an airport in 2007. He’s strolling alone, carrying an all-black go well with, hat in hand, his eyes hid by sun shades, all of the whereas emitting that sort of supernaturally-cool vibe that solely Prince might possess. However once you look down at his footwear, there beheld a most stunning sight: white tube socks and flip flops. However not simply any outdated flip flops. Frankenflops.
Platform flip flops, or, what I’ve at all times known as “Frankenflops” because of the Herman Munster-esque platform sole, began out as a late ‘90s, early-aughts shoe development that so many people, together with our favourite celebrities (like The Purple One) couldn’t resist, regardless of its clown shoe-like design. It was not a classy model by any means. Flip flops are already controversial on their very own; add a chunky platform and a few individuals think about it to be blasphemy to style. However platform flip flops by some means held a puzzling attract highly effective sufficient to stage a severe comeback.
Earlier than exploring the origin of Frankenflops, we first should delve into the historical past of the stacked sole. Platform-style footwear have been round for hundreds of years, and may even return so far as Historical Greece. Worn by European aristocrats within the 16th century, they have been generally known as chopines. Many moons later, in 1938, designer Salvatore Ferragamo launched “The Rainbow,” a gold sandal with a multi-colored platform wedge, created for Judy Garland and impressed by her signature tune from The Wizard of Oz. However platform footwear didn’t actually explode till the late 1960s and into the 1970s, throughout which the timing was serendipitous: They have been the proper model to go along with all these flared bell-bottoms.
Twenty years later, within the 1990s, ‘70s revival helped carry these stacks again into the highlight, fostered partially by musical model icons like Deee-Lite’s Woman Miss Kier and the B-52’s. Madonna wore a pair of black Fluevog Munsters in her documentary, Reality Or Dare; Naomi Campbell famously fell down on the runway whereas carrying Vivienne Westwood’s Tremendous Elevated Gillie footwear (which featured a nine-inch heel and four-inch platform); and membership children from coast to coast would take their sneakers to the native cobbler to get stacks put in simply in time for the following rave. After which the Spice Ladies occurred, which launched platform footwear to the mainstream. It was solely a matter of time for the stacked sole to evolve, ultimately becoming a member of forces with the flip flop.
Although one might argue that they’re truly impressed by Japanese geta sandals, platform flip flops, the type with the rubber soles, have been first seen in American excessive style round 1996 when Amber Valletta strutted down the catwalk in a white pair for Isaac Mizrahi’s 1997 Spring/Summer season present. The model could be worn by Gwen Stefani in 1998 on the MTV Video Music Awards, complementing her child blue hair, matching fuzzy bikini prime, and black skirt/pants combo on the purple carpet. However the look didn’t actually kick off for the on a regular basis shopper till round 1999, when a sure Shakespeare-inspired highschool comedy hit the large display.
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On March 31, 1999, the film 10 Issues I Hate About You made its debut in theaters, introducing Heath Ledger to the world whereas displaying us that Julia Stiles had strikes. It additionally ushered in a controversial footwear development that may proceed by to the next decade. Kat, Stiles’s character, was recognized for her informal, IDGAF model, the polar reverse of her girly, designer-loving sister Bianca (Larisa Oleynik). In many of the film, Kat wears the identical black platform flip flops, even throughout a scene the place she and Ledger’s character, Patrick, are in a pedal boat. And, sure, Kat is pedaling with these rattling flip flops.
In a cellphone interview, Kim Tillman, the costume designer for 10 Issues I Hate About You, tells me how they wished Kat in one thing that was acceptable for her carefree model however would put her on “strong floor,” which resulted in custom-made footwear. “These flip flops specifically are those that you simply get in Asian markets. They sort of simply have straw and are flat, however we liked the way in which they appeared,” Tillman says. “The rationale we truly added the rubber was for consolation as a result of they have been so flat, and he or she wished to put on them rather a lot. They grew to become sort of a signature piece for Kat.”
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Tillman additionally says they labored higher for the silhouette of Kat’s outfits, like her saggy denims and armed forces pants, a glance we’d find yourself seeing rather a lot on the purple carpet all through the 2000s. “We appreciated the flip flop, the simplicity of it, but it surely wanted some weight, some heft,” Tillman says. “This simply sort of felt proper.” Shoe manufacturers like Steve Madden and Rocket Canine, the latter of which grew to become principally synonymous with this specific model, would assist carry the platform flip flop to new heights, so to talk.
The development would achieve traction, making its presence recognized all through highschool hallways and purple carpet occasions. Paris Hilton, Hilary Duff, and Jennifer Aniston would all be underneath the Frankenflops spell. In 2001, a co-worker divulged to me that she could be carrying a white, rhinestone-studded pair beneath her marriage ceremony robe. And regardless of all my mocking, I’d discover myself shopping for a pair to put on for my 21st birthday journey to Vegas. (Someplace on the market a photograph exists of me smiling on the Strip, clutching a chilly Fats Tuesday daiquiri, French pedicure proudly displayed upon a pair of black Rocket Canine.)
The timing of the Frankenflop made sense. The 2000s was an period of extra-ness, (prompted partly by the affect of Carrie Bradshaw, et. al). Designer brand purses have been blatantly displayed, then paired with exaggerated casualwear. Velour tracksuits. Low-rise cargo pants. Excessive-priced trucker hats. J.Lo’s bedazzled bandana. There was an absence of subtlety; every thing was loud, flamboyant, and slightly bit, or, rather a lot, cheesy. This was the best setting wherein ridiculous sky-high flip flops would thrive.
However, with most style tendencies, the flops ultimately fizzled out. By the point Prince was photographed carrying them in 2007, they weren’t in style anymore (Sorry, Prince). However that didn’t cease him from embracing his informal footwear of alternative and proudly owning a number of pairs within the model. The five-foot-three singer had commissioned the well-known Sundown Boulevard cobbler store, Andre No. 1 (based by Andre Rostomyan), to create the well-known heels he wore each onstage and in his on a regular basis life, Now, the store is situated within the valley and run by Rostomyan’s nephew, Gary Kazanchyan.
Whenever you stroll into the store, you’ll first discover shoe bins stacked excessive on cabinets, marked with well-known names, everybody from Britney Spears to Woman Gaga, and Mariah Carey to Sylvester Stallone. If a Hollywood star required a particular kind of shoe, this was the place to go. For Prince, Andre No. 1 helped him maintain a severe shoe behavior. “As quickly as we began making footwear for him, it was nonstop, a constant 30 to 40 pairs a month, for twenty-some years,” Gary Kazanchyan says as he palms me an outdated, beat-up pair of white platform sandals. Reader: I’m holding Prince’s authentic Frankenflops.
“[Prince] was like, ‘Pay attention I like this platform, make them in all colours’ as a result of I feel Rocket Canine solely made white and black,” Kazanchyan says. Prince additionally requested double layers of cushion and that they be extraordinarily gentle, so Kazanchyan hollowed out the underside. “After we perfected that, he was similar to, ‘knock all of them out as many or as quick as you possibly can.’ It was a brand new factor to our guys as a result of they have been extra used to creating costume footwear and boots, slightly bit extra sophisticated stuff. They have been like why are we making sandals? Aren’t they like $10 bucks within the retailer?’ We’re like, hear, he needs them a sure manner. So, that is how it began.”
In 2017, 10 years after Prince’s well-known photograph, celeb stylist Elizabeth Saltzman, whose purchasers embrace Gwyneth Paltrow and Saoirse Ronan, teamed up with Rocket Canine to create a “luxurious line” of the model’s well-known Bigtop platform flip flops, that featured pearl adornments and rainbow soles.
For the reason that ‘90s, Saltzman had been placing celebs within the footwear after occasions to alleviate them of the ache attributable to stilettos. The consolation issue was too exhausting for the stylist to withstand herself, and he or she would put on them for years to come back. Nevertheless, the ugliness issue was not misplaced on Saltzman. “They need to be for whimsy. They’re not hip. They’re simply enjoyable and sort of cheesy, and that’s what makes them cool,” she informed CR Vogue Ebook on the time.
The comeback of the platform flip flop had been gradual, however two years after Saltzman’s Rocket Canine collab, the model had lastly reached a peak second. Earlier in 2019, Steve Madden re-released their model of the sandal in a collab with City Outfitters, and comparable types have been offered at millennial retailers like YRU and DollsKill. It’s also possible to Amazon Prime your self a pair, which is what Floss Gloss founder, Janine Lee, did. For about 20 bucks, she bought a five-inch tall, bubblegum pink pair to tackle a visit to Hawaii, however they took up an excessive amount of area in her baggage. So, she ended up carrying them for a shoot, the place, Lee says, they “actually acquired their second.”
Lee had been a fan of the shoe since its first go-round, courtesy of an older, cool cousin. “She labored on the mall and put Lil’ Kim on my 12-year-old birthday cake. I used to be like, ‘Oh my God, she’s so cool.’ So she wore them and ever since then I used to be like, ‘I must put on these,” Lee says, including that as a shorter individual, the footwear gave her “some top.”
Nevertheless, Lee factors out the peril of the platform flip flop. “Actually, they’re exhausting to stroll in and I’ve had some actually unhealthy experiences. I really feel like I have been burned by a Frankenflop a few times,” she says. The hazard of the platform shoe, particularly the flip flop type, is one thing that podiatrists have warned about for the reason that development started. Dr. Miguel Cunha, founding father of Gotham Footcare, says that a platform flip flop is a greater possibility in comparison with a flatter model as a result of it supplies arch help, however there’s hazard as a result of they lack ankle straps.
“It’s necessary to put on sandals or flip flops with ankle straps for 2 causes,” Dr. Cunha explains. “One, for those who’re always gripping your shoe together with your toes you’re going to develop ‘hammer toes,’ or contractions of the toe joints that causes a completely bent or flexed place within the toe. And two, if the flip flop doesn’t have an ankle strap for added stability this will additionally result in the next chance of twisted or sprained ankles.”
The danger of a twisted ankle could also be one of many negatives of a platform flip flop, but it surely didn’t apply to the general ugly sandal development. As the proper companion to the Frankenflops revival, ugly sandals have been in every single place this yr. Each designer, from UGG to Gucci, put their very own twist on the Tevas-inspired climbing sandal, which ran alongside the high-heel thong sandal development worn by Kim Kardashian. (Satirically, the ugly sandal development was in full impact throughout “scorching lady summer time.”)
As sandal season begins to make manner for fall, it is likely to be time for Frankenflops to return into hibernation till it’s resurrected as soon as once more sooner or later. Till then, platform flip flop aficionados can relaxation simple realizing that, regardless of or not it’s a polarizing shoe, they’ll at all times depend on one factor: the upper the Frankenflops, the nearer to heaven.