In the mid-noughties, ballet flats were the coolest things to have on your feet, thanks to Kate Moss and her Repettos. Classic ballerinas in black leather with delicate bows at the front were an essential part of her Primrose Hill uniform, and as with everything Kate wore at the time, everyone quickly flocked to copy her signature footwear. We were convinced they would be a wardrobe classic forever, but five or so years later, they were considered practical, perhaps boring shoes you'd wear for comfortable commuting rather than as a fashion item. But fashion, as we know, can be terribly fickle and cyclical, and a decade later, ballerinas are making their triumphant return. Although, they are a little different from those black French Soles and Repettos we obsessed over back in 2005.
Kate Moss wearing classic black ballet pumps in London in 2005.
The revival of ballerinas was spearheaded by Miuccia Prada, whose iteration adorned with gingham ribbons catapulted to It-shoe status within minutes of their showing in the Miu Miu S/S 16 collection. And now Gucci, which has been responsible for the horsebit loafer phenomenon, is creating its own maximalist ballerinas, too. Gucci's A/W 17 show during Milan Fashion Week last month featured pink shoes with a mini heel, pearl straps and rose lining (as photographed by The Telegraph Fashion Director Lisa Armstong below).
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The coolest ballet shoes now have heaps of personality, with ribbons, sequins, glitter, buckles, feathers and embellishment with everyone from Tabitha Simmons to Topshop offering these flamboyant pumps. Over the past six months, global fashion search engine Lyst has seen a 23% rise in searches for ballet pumps, with styles with ribbons spiking in search by 43%. And shoppers are spending more than ever on their ballet flats, as according to Lyst, the average spend for ballet pumps was £80 in 2015 compared to £300 in 2017.
"With Gucci offering its take on the ballerina this season, it's a style that is firmly back on the map," says Ida Petersson, non-apparel buying manager at BrownsFashion.com. "The Miu Miu ballerinas may already be on their third season, but our customers are still going crazy for them. For me, the best way to rock the new ballerina is to avoid looking too prim and proper. I wear mine with rolled up ripped boyfriend jeans but anything that adds that little bit of edge works so well."
Alexa Chung in 2016 wearing classic ballet flats.
These playful shoes might be getting all the attention, but humble ballerinas are also not to be completely overlooked and are making a quiet comeback. Alexa Chung has for the past year been wearing her black leather Repettos and even included them in her Archive collection for Marks & Spencer. You might think these modest ballet pumps became a thing in the Primrose Hill set era, but Repettos were actually first worn outside the ballet studio by Brigitte Bardot. The Parisian shoe company created a pair of red ballet pumps for her in 1956 for the film And God Created Woman. So they are, in fact, a cornerstone of classic French style.
Scroll below to shop our edit of the 15 best playful ballet flats.