From Rihanna to Chanel’s new Cruise show, the neoclassical sandal is having a revival

Text:Brittany Adams

You’d be hard pressed to find a longer reigning footwear trend than gladiator sandals. Not only do they conjure up visions of Greek goddesses and the Roman Empire, but they take us back to original bohemian bombshells à la Pattie Boyd dancing through the summer of love—or more recently, the Insta babes of Coachella rocking bold styles strapped from their ankles to their knees.


Gladiator sandals have become a mainstay on the runways in recent years. Designers like Donatella Versace and Joseph Altuzarra ushered in sexy stiletto gladiators circa 2013; while other brands like Valentino and Chloé use more classic flat styles for a soft, feminine effect. In what was probably the most-Instagrammed look of the week, Rihanna wore a killer pair with her avant-garde Comme des Garçons dress Met Ball. Days later, Karl Lagerfeld featured gladiators prominently in his latest Chanel Cruise show, entitled “The Modernity of Antiquity,” in which his models channeled 21st century goddesses adorned in graceful sandals with a column-inspired heel, and ribbons that wound all the way up the legs.

Column-shaped gladiator heels on Chanel’s 2018 Cruise runway

Rihanna, in strappy sandals and Comme des Garçons, at the Met Ball.

Pattie Boyd, in gladiator sandals, with boyfriend George Harrison circa 1969.

Valentino’s elegant take on the classic sandal.

Kate Moss was a major pioneer of short gladiator sandals during the early aughts.

A butterfly-embellished pair from Alexander McQueen’s Spring 2008 show.

Taylor Swift in a winding pair of sandals at the Met Ball in 2016.

Throwback to the bold, warrior-inspired footwear from Nicolas Ghesquière’s Summer 2008 Balenciaga collection.

Wedge-heeled gladiators on Chloé’s Spring 2015 runway.

Ashley Olsen wore a pair circa 2007.

Karl Lagerfeld also showed gladiators in his Chanel Cruise 2010 show.

Kendall Jenner is another strong gladiator advocate. She wore a bold pair of knee-high Sophia Websters to a basketball game back in 2015.