Anna high heels

The demise of high heels?

Tuesday, 30 June 2009 | Tags: , , , , , , ,

According to the New York Times Sunday Styles section, the female fashion slaves' addiction to sky high heels may be waning. In fact there seems to be an outright revolt going on in the upper echelons of the fashion world. On Vogue's website, editor Andre Leon Talley recently ranted about the "torture chambers" that have become women's shoes. Well, I beg to differ.

 But some designers seem to agree. Men’s oxford-style shoes are already popular for women in Britain and are now starting to walk the pavement in New York’s Soho and the West Village. Designer Christopher Kane opened his fall runway show with a pair of oxfords for women. And leading the oxford trend is Dieppa Restrepo, a line of traditional men’s-style women’s shoes handmade in Mexico, where the in-house designers are hoping the line will become the Converse of classic shoes.

Cruising the early fall arrivals at my favourite (and only) Vancouver shoe departments of Holt Renfrew and Gravity Pope, there is no question the women’s oxford is taking up more space on the shelf. Endless versions of the same thing are sure to follow.

Sigh. Say it ain’t so!

I can live with the boyfriend jacket, jeans and shirt but do not take away my big girl shoes. From my 8-inch Laboutin stilettos to my Jimmy Choo gladiators to my cork wedges, which, if I were to ever fall from that platform, well, it wouldn’t be pretty…I love and covet them all!

I will not give them up. I will not!

Not only do I have too much money invested in my heels, there is perhaps no other wardrobe item that makes me feel more womanly. The high-heel is one of fashion’s greatest gifts to woman-kind. And perhaps to mankind too. The way they elongate the leg, elongate the spirit, and perfect an outfit is unparalleled. Regardless of weight, the high-heel shoe always looks good.

I agree that an entire new category of skyscraper heel emerged over the last couple of years that borders on ridiculous. Beginning with the brash gladiator sandal and evolving into some of those heel shapes and heights that defy gravity and should require seat belts and an age limit – on both sides – those tall towering shoes are not for the faint of heart. And they’ve made their way into workday outfits, which just takes too much energy away from doing the job at hand. Perhaps some of those are best reserved for the bedroom. Or some room with lots of padding, and handles to steady yourself. But I beg the fashion designers to resist this heel revolt and the urge to follow the flat-shoed fashion crowd.

As consumers, we usually take fashion trends too far. (Again with the boyfriend jeans. Every. Single. Store. Window.) I hope we keep the boyfriend shoe trend in check, and the long history of the very thin high heel (dating back to the 1800s) gives me hope. Also, keep in mind the women who are currently modelling the oxford (and every other fashion trend) are of the skinny, long-legged variety that look good in everything.

But perhaps it’s a good trend in that it will encourage us to return to the other slightly more reasonable but still feminine, demure and just the right amount of sexy high-heeled shoes – the kitten heel, the mid-height stiletto and the wedge for day, while reserving shoes that require a license for after dark.

I am not opposed to the flat shoe – I just picked up some cute pink flats myself that I plan to wear in Europe this summer – but I will never give up my high heels. Never.

And I beg you to walk to the beat of your own fashion drum too. Boyfriend jeans should be authentic and are best saved for trips to the grocer, working in the garden and a night on the sofa. And while the oxford shoe might get you to the boardroom on time, it won’t get you any dates.

I am woman, see me walk in my heels.

(Photo notes: all of the high heels you see are photos I took of some of my height-boosting favourites in my personal collection. The black and white oxfords photo is from the Dieppa Restrepo website.)



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