THE END OF THE THIN WEDGE

When Italian shoemaker to the stars, Salvatore Ferragamo, came up with the bright idea of using wedges of cork to reinforce the arches of his shoes in the 1930s, he created a shoe that at best looked sophisticated and chic, and at worst more like an orthopaedic appliance. The last great wedge revival was in the 1970s, when they reached dangerous heights; now they are back with a vengeance, after appearing on the catwalks in October, from Prada in Milan to Nicole Farhi in London.

It may be mid-winter outside, but the high street shoe chains are so convinced of the power of the wedge - sandals and all - that they have picked up on them already. Chances are, even if you wore them 20 years ago, you won't be able to resist trying a pair. For comfort go for Bertie's slip-ons. For pure glamour climb into a gold pair from Prada. And keep your eyes peeled for originals from the 1940s or 1970s.

Main picture, top row, left: hessian five-strap wedge sandal, pounds 140, at Joseph Azagury, 73 Knightsbridge, London SW3, and 117-119 Walton Street, SW3 (tel: 0171 259 6887). Right: brown stripey wedge sandals, pounds 49.99, at Ravel, 184-188 Oxford Street,

London W1 (tel: 0171 631 0224)

Middle row, left: navy and white wedge with gold swoosh through heel, pounds 35, from a selection at Blackout II, 51 Endell Street, Covent Garden, London WC2. Right: black leather slip on wedge shoe, by Bertie, pounds 39.95, at Bentalls, Wood Street, Kingston-upon-Thames and Bertie, 409 Oxford Street,

London W1 (tel: 0171 935 2002)

Bottom row, left: beige leather strappy sandals, pounds 149, at Nicole Farhi, 158 New Bond Street, London W1, and from Harvey Nichols, Knightsbridge, London SW1, and Harvey Nichols, 107-111 Briggate, Leeds. Right: burgundy leather `Henne' wedge shoe, pounds 160, at Pollini, 47 Sloane Street, London SW1

(tel: 0171 235 9025)

Above, top: gold hologram fabric slip-on wedge sandals, pounds 55, at Bertie, as before. Bottom: gold 1970s-style strappy wedge sandals, pounds 225, at Prada, 43-45 Sloane Street, London SW1

( tel: 0171 235 0008)

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