If there is anyone who can reverse the fortunes of the ballet pump, it is Hedi Slimane. The Saint Laurent designer's approach to fashion could be seen as a desire to rewrite the rock'n'roll wardrobe. The duffle coat, the biker jacket and leather trousers have been elevated to the height of luxe during his three-season tenure, and the ballet pump – currently a downbeat essential that is more of a commuter staple than a statement shoe – is the latest item in his sights. A former favorite of beatniks such as Juliette Gréco and Jean Seberg, the ballet pump makes a lot of sense in the subculture-centered Saint Laurent universe.
Slimane has taken the ballet flat back to its roots: dance. A new range of 12 is trailed in two films directed by Slimane, both of which feature twinkle-toed dancing models. While Gracie Van Gastel hula-hooping on a rooftop in couture grunge is cute, it is Lida Fox that clinches Slimane's revival of the ballet pump. Fox even one-ups Coco Rocha Irish-dancing down the catwalk. An ex-dancer, Fox pirouettes around an industrial space wearing leather pants, a black chiffon shirt and black ballet pumps. Suddenly, that quick change into flats on the tube looks very far away. This is the ballet pump being chic and edgy. Part of the house's permanent collection, to be revived every season, the move from unassuming facilitator to design classic is complete.
If Slimane's instinct for cool is an endorsement of the humble ballet slipper, the Saint Laurent line is part of a wider trend in fashion going back to flat. 2008 was the peak of heel height, with 6 inch heels – and a casual addiction to painkillers, probably – the norm for fashion editors. Flats were the definition of beta, worn by assistants who took public transport. But the inevitable drip-down of this look from fashion insider to Towie acolyte has seen fashion come down to earth.