At the ready-to-wear shows in Paris last October, the click-click- click of sharp heels echoed around the cavernous walls of the Carrousel du Louvre, the purpose-built underground venue for fashion shows. The source of the noise was not lethal spiked stilettos, but their altogether more elegant sibling, the kitten-heeled slingback, worn (of course) by svelte black-clad fashion editors with good calves, shiny hair, and a supply of plasters for their tattered heels.

As a high-fashion item, the shoes with miaow appeal have been around a few times before. This time, however, their appearance has been greeted with glee rather than a dismissive flick of the wrist.

"So chic! So now!"

"Where's my credit card?"

Last season, the coquettish offerings from Prada, Sergio Rossi and Gina were virtual works of art (if you are aesthetically tuned to these things) and had prices to match - the Prada version started at pounds 195. But few cared about the expense. For the super-chic, you see, acquisition, ownership and one-upmanship come way, way before price. What were people getting for their money? A low-slung, pointy-toed, slingback shoe with an impossibly dainty looking, hard-as-nails one-inch baby stiletto, or "kitten" heel, nestling underneath.

This season, the high street has latched on to the trend, which is good news if you would rather put pounds 195 towards your summer holiday.

Ravel has been the first to "out" its pointy-toed kitten heel (very similar to a well-known designer version). At pounds 49.99, they are completely gorgeous, and a bargain. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the pointed toe did not cut off the circulation in my feet, and the heel was perfect, the desired effect not being to increase height but to add elegance. Being 5ft 9in tall, proper heels serve only to make me tower above friends. Kitten heels improve the posture, and lend a certain purpose to one's deportment.

If these slingbacks are not your thing, the cute little miaow heel comes in a variety of disguises. Try Office shoes for kitten-heeled mules, Russell & Bromley for acid-bright stretch nylon sandals, mules and court shoes, and Freelance for squared-off (this season's brightest new toe shape) court shoe and funky flip-flops.

Kitten heels are extremely versatile, and can be worn with just about any of the key looks about to hit the shops.

Try them with maxi-skirts, mini-skirts and crini-skirts, cigarillo pants that taper off just before the ankle, tube, prom and shift dresses, gently flared hipsters or three-quarter-length coats. Otherwise, look to the kitten-heel heyday of the Sixties - hack off a pair of dark jeans to mid- calf, fray the edges, pop on your slingbacks, top it off with a neat black polo-neck and go.

Black patent kitten-heeled slingback, pounds 49.99, available from selected branches of Ravel. Inquiries 0171-631 0224.