Pretenders to the Imelda Marcos/ Sarah Jessica Parker/Theresa May flagrant footwear fetishist throne might like to know that the world's most unashamedly indulgent and recession- unfriendly Christmas gift has arrived.
For the princely sum of £8,000, designer fashion website par excellence Net-a-Porter.com has introduced the "ultimate shoe subscription" meaning lovers of designer footwear will receive a pair of shoes per month throughout 2011.
"Just one pair?" I hear you all cry. But seriously, this is a very ultimate subscription indeed. Not only will any recipient be guaranteed the shoe collection of her dreams, she will also benefit from one-to-one style advice from the site's resident experts.
With just this in mind, a dedicated team has been set up to cater to the needs of subscription customers who, following an initial consultation to determine their tastes, will each be assigned their own advisor and given a direct line. Next-day delivery is guaranteed, obviously, as, more importantly, is the chance to pre-reserve any soon-to-arrive, most-wanted designs before we mere mortals get a look in.
Styles that have generated a waiting list, selling out almost before their availability has been announced, this season included the Burberry Aviator boot, the Louboutin Elisa and the Yves Saint Laurent Palais Mohawk. Come January, Charlotte Olympia's Paloma heels [pictured] will be very much in demand (niche designers make very few models of each design, so they don't hang around for long), as will classics including the Louboutin Pigalle, which is ordered season after season.
In the end, this is not a gift big on "it's the thought that counts" status, clearly. But as far as buying fashion for anyone other than oneself is concerned, thought tends to be a highly risky business – as those who have been on the receiving end of a painstakingly sought-out purchase that a) doesn't fit (too small is not good), b) doesn't flatter (ditto), or c) just isn't quite right for them, know only too well.