THOUGH KARL LAGERFELD chose her as a muse, 1970s supermodel Pat Cleveland doesn’t credit the late Chanel creative director with launching her career. Instead, she singles out a pair of square-toe shoes by French brand Courrèges. “I bought them with the first cash I made as a model,” said the 72-year-old, who gained fame as one of Vogue’s first Black models and as a staple on the Studio 54 dance floor. “Those shoes made me look like the coolest girl in the room,” she recalled. “I hung out with the Beatles, Mick Jagger… When I see a square toe now, I think: magic.

That magic has apparently been rekindled. The digital-trend tracker SEM Rush notes a 2,500% jump in web searches for “square toed shoes for women” between July 2021 and July 2022. Meanwhile, the online shopping platform Lyst features over 24,500 square-toe women’s shoes including a faux-leather update of Ms. Cleveland’s Courrèges pair and other Judy Jetson-ish riffs from Dries Van Noten and Rupert Sanderson. The sharp-cornered silhouette can telegraph more than space-age modness: Prada’s slingbacks conjure the stealth wealth of ’90s socialites, while Versace’s satin platform clompers evoke Y2K’s candy rave scene. The trend also points to ballet’s pointe shoes, which inspired recent versions by Sandy Liang, Mansur Gavriel and Khaite. Actress Selma Blair, meanwhile, says her square-toe loafers from Salvatore Ferragamo are “the grandma shoes that I love.” (She currently sports them with cuffed khakis in her new Gap campaign.)