When Naomi tripped and fell off her heels at the Anglomania collection for autumn/winter 1993, the picture made the papers the next morning. Ms Westwood could not have planned a better publicity coup, although she must have been quaking in her own platforms (the designer mastered the art of walking in 5in heels long ago) at the prospect of the insurance bill if the supermodel's agent chose to sue for an injury to a million- dollar ankle. And not only did it make tabloid headlines, Naomi's elegant topple resulted in those very shoes - extraordinary blue mock snakeskin lace-ups - entering the hallowed halls of the V&A where they perch today - in a glass case made specially for them.
To balance in a pair of Viv's platform pumps is an art in itself. I once witnessed a casting for a Westwood show. The models could have had two heads, just as long as they had a fine pair of pins and could dance a polka in a pair of 5in platforms.
Honor Fraser repeated the trip at the end of last month during London Fashion Week. The venue was the Cafe de Paris and the sweeping staircase leading down on to the dance floor had obviously been polished for the occasion. Staircases and Westwood shoes spell disaster. The designer's hardened devotees avoid them like the plague, or - like the designer's friend and ex-employee, Jibby Beane, who is rarely seen without a pair of Westwood elevators - ensure they are accompanied at all times by a strong arm on which to lean. And so, Honor, the season's catwalk queen, decided to try her old-school trick of sliding down the banister in order to avoid a nasty fall. This time, it was after climbing out of the shoes to show off her party trick that she lost her balance and took a tumble, bowler hat and carpet bag in hand like some batty old English eccentric. There must be a school where models learn how to trip without exposing their knickers or losing their electric blue novelty wigs. Like a cat, she simply gave the flashing cameras a sheepish grin and found her poise again, leaving the white patent ballerina pumps strategically placed on the steps above her.
The funny thing is, the more challenging the shoe, the better they sell. Part with a mere pounds 230 and you, too, can join the 5in-high club. If you're really lucky, you'll be caught on film as you trip. Fame and fortune will follow.Reuse content