Why Does Céline’s Trompe l’Oeil "Pedicure" Shoe Come In One Skin Tone?



In recent years, designer Phoebe Philo has solidified her reputation designing avant-garde apparel, accessories, and shoes for French fashion house Céline. As per usual, this season's collection did not fail to impress, with all the relaxed silhouettes in luxurious silks and leathers we've come to love and expect. What with all our unbridled admiration and a particularly outlandish, Sesame Street-inspired, mink-covered pair of heels, we didn't even notice an unfortunate exclusion. Luckily, The Cut had our backs and pointed out that the flesh-toned mock pedicure heels are only available in one skin tone — lily white.

The shoe’s design is ingenious: A pedicure is built right in. Who doesn’t need a reprieve from the nail salon every now and then? Which is great, except the shoe is available only for those with porcelain white skin. As much as we admire her, we doubt Philo is making a tongue-in-cheek statement about the racial homogeny on the typical runway.

Sadly, the skin color shoe speaks volumes about the representation of people of color in high fashion (or, well, lack thereof). The truth is this probably happened not because the design department wants to actively limit the brand to white women, but because it simply didn't occur to anyone that making the shoe in only one color sends an exclusive message. The cult of fair skin is so established in the industry that often this fails to register at all — and "flesh-toned" means light and white.

Maybe we're reading too much into this — after all, the shoes may be white, but nobody's stopping people of all skin tones from wearing them and looking damn good doing it. You tell us. Do you think these shoes are meant to be worn by people of all colors? Or is Céline simply reaffirming the status quo? (The Cut)

celine shoe

Image via The Cut