Last year's gladiator explosion was strong enough that the reverberations are still felt this spring. Logically, we're calling this trend Gladiator Redux. Really, it's hard to fault the return of a style that was current when Tarquinius was chased from Rome.
What's the rumpus? Gladiators, like a hammer, the Appian Way and the Aeneid, is a form perfectly suited to its purpose. In that sense these sandals are never so much out of style as simply out of the spotlight, the way nailguns, superhighways and James Patterson novels may have the attention of their genre but not the genesis.
The gladiator follows the lines of the foot. Starting at the toe they sweep up the arch, cup the heel and wrap the ankle and shin. While this may have been perfect for securing a legionnaire's greaves or keeping the heat and dust of the forum under control, for us it means a form that is tantalizingly form and space, skin and covering. Gladiators draw attention to your feet, ankles and legs by revealing and concealing them, all the while providing ventilation and a secure fit.
For spring 2009, we are seeing some exciting tinkering. The basic form of the gladiator remains, but it has been abstracted into something seemingly more contemporary. Look for sturdy heelcups and wispy strapping from Sam Edelman or greaved uppers from Steven and lots of embellishments on top of the form, as with Dolce Vita.
The reason galdiators never really go away is because they are perfectly suited to life in the warm weather. Grab a pair. They are bound to stay in style as long as the sun is shining and footwear is the status quo.