Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Heels Which Prove a Point

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Heels Which Prove a Point

Article excerpt

Byline: By Emma Johnson

Love them or loathe them, stiletto heels are a fashion staple. Emma Johnson investigates why.

Flicking through fashion bible Vogue recently I came across something which almost made my heart stop.

No, not the price of the latest Balenciaga handbag but the announcement that stiletto shoes are so over.

There it was in black and white from the mouth of style doyenne herself, Miuccia Prada: "Pointy high heels are finished".

It could not be, I thought, mentally picturing my rows of death-defying toe-tamers consigned to the fashion wasteland.

From the navy blue pointed courts lifted from my mother's wardrobe (I was eight) to my first-ever very own pair of ballroom dancing silver four-inch highs at 15 (which cut my feet to ribbons but made me feel like a fairytale princess) I've been fascinated with high heels.

In a gleaming pair of patent, pointed courts I feel all-woman ( strong, confident and sexy. Don't get me wrong; I am not some five-foot flower ( this is not a height issue. No, I just find something magical about that slender spike and I am not alone in my thinking.

Caroline Cox addresses this mythical power of stiletto heels in her new book, Stiletto, the first definitive history of fashion and society's obsession with a shoe that is loved and loathed in equal measures.

Regarded as an international authority on fashion history, and a cultural trends advisor for Vidal Sassoon, Caroline examines the stiletto as a cultural icon which through its lifetime has been described as both a "symbol of female subjugation" and most recently as one of female sexual independence.

Although its exact origins are unknown, the stiletto heel was invented in the 1950s by Italian shoemakers and means literally "little dagger".

And it caused a fuss almost from day one.

Says Carol: "The piercing, penetrating nature of the heel caused disturbance wherever it roamed, damaging floors and in some cases the feet of others, sparking outrage and moral panic."

Although it had been dreamed of for many years and high heels had been worn from pre-war times, Caroline explains that it was not until the late 1940s that designers really hit the drawing boards to create a truly elegant shoe. …

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