Would you pay pounds 275 for a pair of shoes? Maybe for Manolo Blahnik 'Voltur' stilettoes
Fashion is a world of extremes. With tendon-snapping speed, we've gone from flip-flops to stilettoes as the ultimate style statement. Now, you're nobody unless you've got six inches separating your heels from the floor.

And nobody does glamorous footwear better than Manolo Blahnik, the half- Spanish, half-Czech shoe designer who set up shop in London in 1972. His lilac "Voltur" shoes are this season's must-haves to complement all those pinky-purply summer dresses.

The "Voltur" shoe was worn by supermodels at Dior's Spring/ Summer show, while Jerry Hall and Madonna are regular customers. In fact, unless you're a high earner you can forget these high heels. They cost pounds 275. If you take this shoe at face value, it sounds a preposterous amount to pay for a scrap of satin and some Italian leather. Plus, they are treacherous. With zero support on the inside of my foot, I teetered around the living room in fear. So, why the three-figure price-tag?

"These shoes are all completely hand-made in the very best fabric," says Jamie Prieto at Manolo Blahnik in London. "They are made from hand-ruched silk satin and are lined in kid. Manolo believes the structure has to be there before the embellishments can begin, so they are very well balanced."

The "Voltur" shoe is reasonably comfortable - for a flimsy design which looks like it would cut off your big toe's blood supply in seconds. "That's because at the top of the shoe there's a piece of suede which will stop your foot from slipping," says Darla Jane Gilroy, course leader at the Cordwainers College in London. "There are certain things worth spending money on and footwear is one of them. It is labour-intensive and you get what you pay for. It's not an everyday shoe. It's for a woman who steps out of a taxi, has lunch and doesn't do a lot of walking. But you can tell by the qualities of the material, the finish, the sole and the fine gauge of the stitching that it is an expensive shoe. They are worth the money because they are meticulously handmade with high-quality materials.

But pounds 275 is a bit steep when you can get a pair from Charles Jourdan reduced to pounds 45 in Selfridge's sale? "Those shoes are made for a different purpose," says Darla Jane. "You could go dancing all night in them. They have a much thicker sole and look mass-produced."

Not only are the Manolos worth the money, but his sale starts on 1 August, where they'll be reduced by around 45 per cent. "In which case," says Darla Jane, "you should buy two pairs." Wear trainers for the crush.