FASHION / Clump, clump, clump

Here they come. Clump, clump, clump. Nothing can stop them. Clump, clump, clump. The horrible shoes.

All by themselves, they're altering the whole landscape, dominating the high street; suddenly, every girl going by is wearing them. There's no escape: it's like having a noise in your ears, a noise you can't stand but that won't go away. Those horrible, horrible, horrible shoes.

Why do women want this? For the best part of ten years, they've had something denied to their mothers: they could live their lives without teetering and tottering, without getting jammed in pavement grids, without constant running (or hobbling) repairs. More significantly, a woman in a pair of black suede Johnny Moke slippers or those brilliant Toko Kumagai wrapped-elastic jobs stood square and level, certain of her identity. To some men, this was a lot more appealing than the the tilted thrust of a cantilevered Allen Jones girl, whose come-on seemed to belong to another era. People think of high heels as standing for sex, but there was actually more sex in flat shoes - at least, if you were after sex with a real woman rather than a plastic Fifties baby doll or a PVC Helmut Newton dominatrix. The sex was in the way the flat shoe made a woman walk, the way the settling back of the heels articulated the rest of the body. Once again, it made the woman look confident in herself, comfortable in her skin. Perfectly ordinary women became elegant gamines.

Now that's all gone. Younger women want something different, something of their own, and at the moment the something is the dodgy long skirt and the horrible shoe, a combination that practically guarantees ungainliness. Can any of these girls really think that jacking herself into the air on a pair of ankle-strapped clogs is sexy?

Clump, clump, clump. Thank you once again, Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood, for the doctrine of perverse chic, the idea that each generation must embrace its predecessor's worst nightmare. Clump, clump, clump. Let's tune out for a while, till it goes away. Cord LeBaron

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