Small, cute and sexy - a rare breed

Kitten heels are sexy stilettos that you can actually walk in. If you can find a pair, that is
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Indy Lifestyle Online
STYLE POLICE is starting to sound like Points of View. "Why, oh why" are the sales still on, the spring stock not on the rails and crucial items we want to buy just not available? Last week it was the perfect cardie. This week, Style Police has been fielding calls from girlfriends bitching that they can't find a pair of kitten heels for love nor money. A kitten is no more than two inches high, it curves languidly from the heel into a tiny point. Think busty woman with waspy waist and you've got the silhouette: a squashed stiletto.

Can I let you into a secret? Stiletto heels didn't do too well on the high street last season. Getting women out of square toes and clumpy heels is proving difficult. Unless a high heel is engineered like the Forth Bridge - Manolo Blahnik being the master builder - it is bloody uncomfortable. The kitten is, of course, a softer option. But high street shops are hedging their bets for the present. That's why you won't find a litter of kitten heels if you go shoe shopping tomorrow.

If you are rash enough to attempt the pedal pusher, then you'll know kitten heels are essential. But even for the basic pencil on the knee, you need to elongate your leg to the pointed tips of the new slide-heel kitten. Flat paddy-heel pumps are firmly back, particularly at Prada. But they throw the proportion of spring fashion and make an on-the-knee skirt look dowdy. You aren't auditioning for a bit-part in Tenko, you know. The slide is a sinuous variation on the sling-back, with either barely-there straps or a tiny, pointed cap toe and two-inch kitten heel. Gucci got it right with a delicate mushroom satin slide, encrusted with bronze glitter beads.

Elle's fashion editor, Sally Courtis, says, "The kitten is a kinder heel than spike stilettos. Only the die-hard American fashion editors endured the agony of six inches anyway. They were limousine-to-restaurant-to-limousine shoes. In our February issue we feature a pink leather pair of Manolo kittens (pounds 260). You'll notice there aren't many high street names in our sling-back kitten story." Manolos are the froth on the cappuccino of shoe design. In tangerine crepe de chine (pounds 295), pale blue satin (pounds 195) and pale lemon suede (pounds 255), you are buying a kitten that needs pampering.

A pointed, enclosed toe cap like the Manolo kitten demands an extremely slim foot. Anything broader than a Japanese geisha would ruin the line. So let's hear it for the high street visionaries who have given the kitten sanctuary for the season. The prettiest kitty has to be Pied a Terre's powder pink suede or leather two-strap (pounds 139) with satin roses trim. You need a pedicure and a polish, though, because all of these shoes are open at the toe.

Russell & Bromley has a classic black satin kitten heel with a two-band crossover strap above the toes and a silver heel (pounds 115). Dolcis do another black strappy leather kitten (pounds 25). Ravel promise me they will dip their toes into the kitten heel soon. And Office have come up trumps as usual with black suede, pointed toe slingbacks at pounds 54.99 and fantastic camel, powder pink or baby blue open-toe slingbacks for pounds 49.99.

So either pay the price for an investment shoe in classic colours or wait for the high street's cold feet to thaw in a couple of weeks. It's not so much worth waiting for as essential to wait: open toe, strappy kittens in February? You'd freeze.

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