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Sock it to me! How humble hosiery went haute

“This is a seminal moment for the sock category,” said Candy Harris of Stance Socksthis week – and it’s a bold sentiment we can all agree with.

The seismic event to which Harris was referring was Rihanna’s appointment as the company’s creative director, and the subsequent design of a Murder Rih Wrote sock range. “Together, Rihanna and Stance have the ability to take an accessory you’ve never thought about and transform it into one you can’t live without,” Harris added.

Rihanna’s socks Photograph: Stance Collection

Covered in black, white and red spliced ransom-note newsprint (stylised kidnapping is totally hot right now), the limited edition over-the-knee and mid-calf-length socks were mostly sold out only one day after the announcement (a few of the longest remain for $26).

Sports sock: street-style in Paris Photograph: Silvia Olsen/REX Shutterstock/Silvia Olsen/REX Shutterstock

In fact, socks have been enjoying a long moment in fashion. Miuccia Prada has always had a way with wrinkly, “ugly-beautiful” hosiery. Her most recent show was a sock spectacular, with female models wearing two pairs of slim, ribbed, artfully baggy versions, caramel-coloured layered over grey. Undeniably, Prada’s sock odyssey has been a big influence on others – from Kanye West’s collection for Adidas to Alexander Wang’s marathon runner-style compression socks for HM.

Model on the catwalk at Prada during Men’s Milan Fashion Week in June. Photograph: SIPA/REX Shutterstock/SIPA/REX Shutterstock

On the spring 2016 menswear catwalks there were haute hiking socks paired with sandals at Marni and Bottega Veneta. But, for the most part, this is a trend not for the runways but for the streets. Celebrities from Alexa Chung to Chloe Sevigny to – certainly – Rihanna, know the geek chic, Wes Anderson vibes that can be found through sandals and socks. Fashion editor and street-style star Veronika Helibrunner, for example, has been subtly subverting her outfits through hosiery for some time by pairing crisp, white sports socks with neat, black Nike ticks with a sumptuous Valentino frock.

The good news? As designer fashion trends go, this one is pretty practical (no more blisters with new sandals) and cheap to get on board with (£10 for three at JD Sports). All this and the 20th anniversary of groundbreaking sock movie Clueless (see Cher and Dionne’s hosiery wardrobe) being celebrated by the fashion industry this month? These are, indeed, seminal times for the sock.

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