Roman Revival

Age-old gladiator sandals hold a fearsome appeal among today's style arbiters

The red carpet IS certainly a long way from the amphitheaters of ancient Rome, where the most highly anticipated entertainment was the gladiator contests. As important as the games themselves—where thousands of boisterous spectators cheered on the gladiators—were the fighters' outfits, including their short-skirted armor and, most memorably, their distinctive sandals, often just a pair of leather soles strapped to the feet with leather guards to protect the shins. Back then, gladiator sandals served a practical purpose, but today—nearly 2,000 years later—they cater to a very different crowd, turning up at modern-day spectacles (think movie premieres and nightclub sorties) for purely...

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