“A good model can advance fashion by ten years ” Yves Saint Laurent
Sandals were part of the basic apparel worn by Neolithic farmers and herders. These sandals, found in the Cave of Los Murciélagos (Albuñol, Granada), are over 6,000 years old and have survived despite the fragility of the plant fibres used to fashion them: sparto grass treated to make it more pliable.
The sandal design was eminently practical at the time, and today sandals are considered both serviceable—as human feet still have the same needs—and fashionable. We would not be surprised to find similar sandals in the shop windows of any modern city: their timeless beauty and utility are an unmistakeable hallmark of good design. However, it is surprising to realise that one of the oldest models of footwear had already achieved such ideal material, formal and technical qualities: more useful than most objects, it respects and adapts to the foot’s shape; its elements are proportionate to each other and to the wearer; it makes walking easier and protects the foot; and the materials blend in perfectly with the natural world from which they came.
These shoes are obviously eco-friendly. In fact, growing environmental awareness among modern-day designers has given rise to a trend known as ecodesign, which pays special attention to the materials used, energy consumed and waste generated during the production, useful life and death of objects.
Manolo Blahnik heads one of today's most successful designer footwear firms, and among his many models we find a sandal with the same sparto grass sole that has come down to us from the Neolithic, proving once again that an ancient design can endure for millennia and still be considered the height of fashion.