The 29 Shoes That Made 2012 Spectacular

The ’60s had the Chelsea boot. The ’70s, the platform shoe. The ’90s redefined the chunky heel. And in 2012 alone, we had plenty of new silhouettes and trends that not only defined a year, but also secured a spot in the mine-for-inspiration memories of our fashion progeny. From the ubiquitous Isabel Marant sneaker wedge to the return of the pointy toe (with a twist, of course!), we present to you, the 29 shoe styles that we’ll remember 2012 by — now, hot step to it!


This chunky, ankle-cuffed Céline wedge launched a hundred knock-offs, and it was hard to walk down the street this past Fashion Week without spotting at least a pair of these.

Céline Multiples Platform Shoe


This pretty, pointed flat by Jenni Kayne came in a dozen colors and textures, and was a total editor fave (at least in this office!).

Jenni Kayne D’Orsay Flat, $610, available at Jenni Kayne.


If there ever was a sneaker that could inspire women to drop $600, this would be it.

Isabel Marant Sneaker; Photo: Courtesy of Net-A-Porter.


We credit this Alexander Wang heeled loafer for instigating our obsession with mirrored-metallic shoes.

Alexander Wang Anais Loafer, $650; Photo: Courtesy of Shopbop.


The Manolo for J.Crew collaboration rumor was one of the most anticipated…and broke the most hearts when it didn’t hold true. However, J.Crew’s collection of patterned Everlys was just as good (and probably, a whole lot more affordable!).

J.Crew Everly Pump, $268, available at J.Crew.


Nike Free Runs started the sneaker street fashioncraze in the states. Coming in so many different customizable colors and materials, this shoe was able to bridge the gap between gym and the real world like no other sneaker before it.

Nike Free Run 2NSW iD, $135, available at Nike.


That tell-tale gold crackle of this 3.1 Phillip Lim boot was one of the most vibrant textures of the year.

3.1 Phillip Lim Ankle Boot, $725, available at 3.1 Phillip Lim.


Me-ow! Charlotte Olympia’s sweet, whimsical shoes were a cult buy this year, and this cat slipper was one of her most popular styles.

Charlotte Olympia Cat Flats, $595, available at Forward by Elyse Walker.


These iced-out booties from Chanel were on every It Girl’s wish-list.

Chanel Lambskin Shoe, $2,200; Photo: Courtesy of Chanel


Though the style is definitely not for the weak of heart, this Givenchy boot made that Clydesdale-hoofed boot shape the silhouette to copy this fall.

Givenchy Shark Lock Fold Over Boot, $1,695, available at Forward Forward.


The return of the pointy toe brought the return of the Manolo shoe. These days, a classic pair of pointed Manolos are just as on-trend as a pair of Kirkwoods.

Manolo Nude Pump, $595, available at Shop Savannahs.


In the age of collaborations, it’s hard to stand out from the crowd, but each shoe within the Jen Brill and Olivia Kim for Cole Haan collection was memorable, wearable, and gimme-right-now-able.

Cole Haan Jen & Oli Chelsea Collection, $550, available at Barneys.


This all-over flomo print made a splashy shoe debut in the form of this Nicholas Kirkwood for Erdem boot.

Nicholas Kirkwood for Erdem Floral Boots, $1,595, available at Saks.


Ladies (and men!) — you’re looking at 2012’s sexiest shoe, courtesy of Christian Louboutin. 

Christian Louboutin Studded Red Shoe, $1,195, available at Net-A-Porter.


The ultimate in jolie-laide, these Miu Miu shoes gained hoards of loyal fans and haters. The shoe equivalent of a very cute tree toad, these boots were a highlight of fall ’12.

Miu Miu Ankle Boots, $895, available at Miu Miu.


That oversized, floppy bow was the hallmark of a true Carven loyalist. Coming in both flat and heel versions, these shoes earned serious cult status. 

Carven Bow-Embellished Pump, $685, available at Net-A-Porter


From spring ’12, these Alexander McQueen floral shoes lacked a real heel, but made up for it with a choking swath of silk rosettes. Chalk it up to Sarah Burton to make florals seem malicious.

Alexander McQueen Floral Shoe, $6,395; Photo: Courtesy of Alexander McQueen


It was hard to open up a magazine editorial without seeing this Nicholas Kirkwood shoe. With just the right amount of pattern, cut-outs, and height, this stunner was one of our personal favorites this year.

Nicholas Kirkwood Patent Leather Trimmed Sandals, $1,090, available at Net-A-Porter.


This mid-heel ankle-boot shape was ubiquitous in 2012, but rag & bone’s version took the cake.

Rag & Bone Kinsey Leather Ankle Boot, $595, available at Rag & Bone.


Patterned sneakers were big this year, but no other version was more sought-after than the Kenzo for Vans unisex collaboration.

Kenzo X Vans Spring Sneaker, $120, available at Opening Ceremony.


The Schiaparelli and Prada exhibit at The Met really sealed the fate for this Prada flame shoe (miniature versions were sold as Christmas ornaments!), but even without it, this shoe would have been burned in our consciousnesses, forever.

Prada Flame Shoe, $1,100; Photo: Courtesy of Prada


A new life was breathed upon the pyramid stud when Valentino came out with these rocker slingbacks. With a ladylike heel and pointed toe, the juxtaposition of its demure shape and badass studs were the perfect balance of ying and yang. 

Valentino Rockstud Slingbacks, $945, available at Valentino.


Ringing in at only $50, these Zara heels were impossible to resist this summer, especially considering how comfortable they are.

Zara Sandal Heels, $50; Photo: Courtesy of Zara


Rodarte’s first in-house shoewear collection kicked off with these artful sand-filled heels.

Rodarte Sand Art Heels; Photo: Courtesy of Marie Claire


Marc Jacobs’ glass slipper shoe was like a childhood dream come true — and started a crazed, if not slightly unwearable, clear-plastic trend.

Marc Jacobs Transparent Pump, $595, available at La Garconne.


Made of faux croc, this Stella McCartney ankle boot was one of the sharpest shapes to come out of the fall runways. 

Stella McCartney Croco Embossed Boots, $917, available at My Theresa.


Tabitha Simmons seemed to go from indie brand to department store sellout in 2012, and this woven sandal was definitely an editor and consumer favorite.

Tabitha Simmons Wedge


Credit Isabel Marant for bringing the sneaker to high fashion…and now, the cowboy boot back from the costume drawer. Get ready to see plenty of similar silhouettes from designers and mass retailers this winter!

Isabel Marant Studded Boots, $1,495, available at Net-A-Porter.


With a near-wedge heel, a matte beige leather, and a severe pointed toe, Céline’s shoe from fall ’12 was the modern-day answer to the ladylike pump.

Céline Pump; Photo: Courtesy of Céline

Click HERE to read more from Refinery29.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


Confirm you are not a spammer! *