Autumn’s hottest footwear trend has us reminiscing about our school days, but the girlish favourite has had a cool, contemporary update for 2019, writes Meadhbh McGrath
The sight of children back in their uniforms - not to mention the photos of Princess Charlotte starting school last week - is likely to bring back memories of our own first days. And while the jumpers, shirts and pleated skirts vary, there is one shoe that almost everyone will recall from their childhood - the Mary Jane.
The prim pump with its strap across the instep is a classic, beloved by schoolgirls and grown women alike. A perennial favourite for autumn, it's about to have an even bigger moment this year, thanks to its appearance on the catwalks and on the piers at the star-studded Venice Film Festival.
The Mary Jane has had an upgrade for 2019 and the modern equivalents are more refined than the retro versions - some are furnished with a harder edge, such as the razor-sharp pointed houndstooth styles at the exciting New York label Area, paired with contrasting red houndstooth trousers and a neck full of bling.
Miu Miu, known for its whimsical nostalgia, offered glossy patent Mary Janes in blood red and black, worn with sheer black hose and ankle-skimming tweed capes or floral mini dresses. Tory Burch went for gleaming silver with gold block heels, adding flash to crisp grey wool and shearling coats. The designer herself stepped out for her bow in a metallic pair with a monochrome colour-block dress.
The Mary Jane is surprisingly versatile: you can embrace the hyper-femininity or juxtapose your footwear with something a little more androgynous up top.
Brigitte Macron is a fan of the shape, though she favours Louis Vuitton's contemporary take on the classic silhouette. The French first lady tends to favour a timeless stiletto, but for the G7 Summit, she instead chose to make a stylish statement with the Vuitton Matchmake pump.
The straps and two-tone colour scheme make an otherwise plain shape exciting and fresh, particularly when worn with a belted utility dress in 2019's hottest shade, beige.
The double-strap buckled pumps, with famous monogram detail on the heel, blend playfulness and professionalism in a shoe that can take you to work or a night out - these Mary Janes were a hit on the front row at the brand's Paris Fashion Week show.
At the Venice Film Festival, the glitz and glam of the red carpet is matched by the arrivals on the canal, where off-duty chic rules the day. Miu Miu's low-heeled Mary Janes were a favourite, popping up on Lucy Boynton in glittering gold with a Breton stripe dress and on Margaret Qualley, the actress daughter of Andie MacDowell.
Qualley opted for ladylike elegance in a dotted prairie-style dress with bright white pumps. The effect was effortless cool, with a hint of sparkle in the form of crystal embellishment. It's daytime-dressy, yet accessible, and despite the vintage silhouettes, the look comes across modern.
Mary Janes are proving popular for evening too. On the catwalks, they were styled with hot-pink party dresses and darkly romantic floral gowns, but for a more casual approach, take inspiration from Emma Stone in indigo jeans and a printed Fendi blouse.
As a brand ambassador for Louis Vuitton, Stone is known for her cutting-edge high fashion, yet here, she manages to make Mary Janes look daring and very much her.
The cropped, wide-leg silhouette is very now, the combination of denim and a pyjama-style top gives the outfit an easy feel, while the sculptural shape of her pale pink Mary Janes (and that super-blocky heel) keeps it looking smart. And you can't beat a killer pair of sunglasses.