Ready To Wear: Feature footwear

Even the most seasoned fashion follower would be hard pushed to perceive the new season's footwear as anything less than challenging. A tad déclassé though it may seem, this might not unreasonably be described as feature footwear. It's certainly not recommended for those wishing to maintain a low profile - or those living with a low ceiling, for that matter. There's nothing, then, remotely low about the fashionable of foot this autumn/winter.

At Chanel, quilting that is most readily associated with the iconic gilt-chained bag has migrated on to the metallic heel of sandals. Mr Lagerfeld covers all bases this time, as always, by also including gold Chanel ice-skates (how chic!) in his collection, not to mention bouclé-wool tweed over-the-knee boots which surely take the concept of co-ordinated dressing to hitherto unforeseen heights.

At Alexander McQueen, a new heel - it's called the Brancusi and named after the bird-inflight sculptures - looks lovely, if well nigh impossible to walk in. The heels curve curiously inwards in mildly disturbing, hoof-like fashion at Prada also. Miuccia Prada is, of course, the patron saint of bizarre footwear and the colour palette only adds to this effect appearing more sludgy than ever, fading from black, to grey, to brown in the determinedly downbeat and even counter-commercial manner in which only this designer knows how.

If a curved heel might not strictly be designed for anything as mundane as, well, walking, nobody in their right mind would attempt to brave the great outdoors in Viktor & Rolf 's high-heeled wooden clogs, lovingly painted with Delft-tile designs. Nor are Dior's cartoonishly high, cartoonishly chunky, exaggeratedly strappy and juicily hued platform-soled sandals ever likely to be the athlete's footwear of choice.

At Balenciaga, brightly coloured plastic cage shoes look like transformers. Of course, in most cases these are lined with leather. Leather shoes coated to look like plastic - this is very "now". Over at Jil Sander, meanwhile, designer Raf Simons cheerfully admits that his shoes - not far off a classic court from the front, then anything but a classic court either from the side or behind - are "twisted".

Chloé can always be relied upon to come up with "it" footwear to match the "it" bag, surely? This time, though, nothing more conventionally fashionable than Dr Martens appears to have inspired lace-up boots which gleam most menacingly in inky black and true red. This leaves Stefano Pilati at Yves Saint-Laurent as the man to look to for the world's first strictly sensible YSL shoe ( above). Such things are relative, of course. They may come in smart black leather and look, at first sight, like something the Queen Mother might once have worn - that is, if their sturdy, varnished wood heels weren't a good 10 centimetres high.

s.frankel@independent.co.uk

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