The Birth of the Chelsea Boot and the King of Them All: Saint Laurent’s Wyatt
Your average sneakerhead is no stranger to dropping a few Benjamins on an exclusive collab. But spending a cool grand on a pair of boots? That’s not an everyday purchase. Of course, these aren’t your average boots.
I’m talking about Saint Laurent’s Wyatt Chelsea boot: painfully sleek and crafted in Italy from the best calfskin leather on the market. Its biggest fans include the likes of Kanye West, Harry Styles, and Scott Disick. GQ calls them the “Rolex of Chelsea Boots,” but it’s the lack of branding that makes this status symbol all the more alluring.
Looking back, the Beatles made the Chelsea popular, and Saint Laurent made it an icon. Here’s how.
The History of the Chelsea Boot
Though Saint Laurent didn’t introduce its Chelsea boot into its line until 2013, the silhouette has a long history. It has been toeing the line between utility and luxury since the 1850s, when Queen Victoria requested a laceless boot that wouldn’t interfere with her riding stirrups. J. Sparkes-Hall came up with the solution: an elastic ankle-height style called the Paddock boot.
The silhouette was dubbed the Chelsea in the 1950s, when it became popular in England. Paul McCartney and John Lennon requested the addition of a Cuban heel, and by the mid ’60s, the style was ubiquitous with The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. It has remained a classic staple ever since, flawlessly marrying high fashion and rock-n-roll.
Hedi Slimane’s Wyatt Boot
In 2013, under the creative direction of Hedi Slimane, Yves Saint Laurent or YSL rebranded to Saint Laurent. But the name wasn’t the only thing to get an overhaul. Slimane shifted the focus from French chic to bohemian-punk, and there was only one shoe that could anchor those aesthetics.
First walking the runways for FW13, the Wyatt Chelsea Boot elevated the rugged silhouette in a way only Saint Laurent could. The iconic style is crafted from sturdy yet pliable calfskin leather, with a tapered almond-shaped toe and ankle-hugging profile that feels utterly luxe.
Of course, the devil is in the details: a four-centimeter heel that adds the subtlest of boosts, a leather sole, and barely there heel pull tab. The style remains a Saint Laurent staple with current creative director Anthrony Vaccarello, and it’s still crafted by the best artisans in Italy.
It’s true, the Wyatt will cost you a pretty penny. But it’s a lifetime investment. The calfskin leather will only become more buttery with age, and its sleek style will continue through the decades. Polish them up, have them resoled, and even hand them down to the next generation.