The Taming of the Shoe

Naomi Campbell, Paris Runway, Vivienne Westwood

I recently sat in my Italian class during the break period typing away on my blackberry, next to me sat two sixty plus fellow Italian Students. They were flipping through The Metro commenting idly on bank manger payments, taxes and pension pay outs – all of a sudden one of them let out an ear piercing gasp, ‘Look at those, aren’t they ridiculous?’ My eyes wondered from my Blackberry towards the newspaper inquisitively, but it was out of my glance. ‘These aren’t shoes, they’re decoration!’ The other shrieked. I smiled inwardly, I didn’t need to see the newspaper to have some idea of the kind of shoes or should I say ‘genre’ of shoes they were gasping at – let’s be honest, the shoes of today are somewhat epic! We should all be well familiar with the story telling, dramatic almost costume looking shoes by now; those with the unbelievably high platform, or the ankle deforming heel, the ones that shove the upper half of your body so far forward that you end up walking like a duck, the shoes that execute a full body work out just to lift one foot from the floor to take that one step for ‘shoe kind!’ Yes – those embellished, beautifully intricate, almost too pretty to wear, too kinky for the under twenty one’s and way too complex for the male sex to understand – shoes – Ok, so you know the ones I mean? The point is there seems to be no veering towards the taming of the shoe, they are getting more vibrant, more fantastic and far more impossible to wear – remember Naomi Campbell for Vivienne Westwood, plummeting to the floor in fairy tale looking shoes? And it was only a season ago that model after model tripped down the catwalk in their Prada’s.

Now the impossible shoe has made it to the high street – check out these pink and red Kurt Geiger shoes, or these Topshop Court Shoes. Don’t be fooled by the Topshop Court, they may look tame in this photo, but in the flesh the platform is like an art deco architectural raised ledge. When the once simple plain and classic court shoe comes with a blueprint and a planning permission we have entered the age of the strategic and structured shoe – a decorative, eye catching, statement screaming phenomena! We are officially in the era of shoe experimentation, except the experiment isn’t alternative – it’s expected, it’s mainstream – it’s fashion.
It would appear that the more crazy and creative we get with the shoe the more we are a fashion advocate. At least this would be my own personal belief, sporting a normal shoe – no frills, no bells or whistles is just too safe, too easy and ultimately too damn boring. Of course life is all about balance, so if a shoe happens to be particularly wild, wear it with a pair of jeans, some flood length trousers or a knee length skirt – let the shoes do the attacking for the outfit. The decorative shoe is also worn nicely with a classic look, to add that extra edge and modernity to tradition – which of course demonstrates a great knowledge of fashion! Once in Steve Madden in New York for an intense shopping trip with a best friend I came armed with a price and picture list of all the shoes I wanted, ‘What are these shoes for exactly?’ My friend asks, as we navigate my shoes in the shop with the help of my list, ‘Surely not for meeting in laws?’ She demands incredulously.(Yes, they were for my first trip to Italy to meet the in- laws, but they were multi purpose shoes, meet the in-laws for dinner, go for drinks with my partner, go to a club with the girls kinda shoes) I nod my head slowly, she becomes outraged, ‘ Are you crazy? You can’t meet a man’s parents wearing these – these – they are stripper shoes. Omigod, no way, I don’t even know how you walk in these things – ,’ The barricade of abuse flew, as it so often does from this particular friend’s mouth. In hindsight she was right – these shoes are not multi- purpose at all! Yes, you have to spend a reasonable amount of money on them, but don’t think that justifies wearing them everyday for every occasion! These shoes are for clubbing only, if you’re drinking in a bar before heading to a club, then of course and if you are in a late night bar on a Friday or Saturday evening then maybe that’s ok. But home by eleven – during the week – meeting the girls for a few drinks kind of drinking – no way, Jose, leave your shoes behind for a night they deserve. However if you are adverse to the simple shoe, like myself then think of curbing the embellishment and decoration in either the actual body of the shoe or the heel. For example find a fairly simple court shoe with an impressive, exciting heel or find a shoe with a decorative and intricate body and minus the inches in platform or heel height. Jimmy Choo for example is perfect for keeping shoes beautifully crafted, with every attention to detail with the right amount of sexiness – The heel and platform height are always just perfect for the shoe leaving you with a shoe that’s never a boring shoe, always statement making but perfect for all events that acquire you to be dressed without looking like a stylish stripper!

Jimmy Choo – Embellished heel, simple, classic shoe

Embellished shoe, bells, whistles, tassels and all sorts, BUT there’s no platform and a reasonably high heel.
Tip – Lower platform height to take away excessive sex appeal – (can there be such a thing??)

When Taming The Shoe – Think Balance!!!!


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