At the Golden Globes, the actress Emma Thompson walked on to the stage carrying her Christian Louboutin shoes and said it was her feminist rebellion against high heels. Louboutin shoes have blood-red soles, a trademark and perhaps “ironic” recognition that stilettos hurt, hurt a lot, sometimes make feet bleed and have ladies crying in the loo.
But they still wear them – bankers, chief executives, teachers, actors, some politicians, too. And our dear daughters have got into them, some as young as 13.
Why? OK, so Gok Wan always sticks them on the feet of the lost and tremulous. And top designers have played a blinder by turning heels into symbols of female power and aspiration – the higher the heels, the higher you will rise, was the message, the false promise. And, most of all, we have been persuaded by image-makers that high heels make you look and feel really sexy. They really don’t.
Heels make sexist men feel randy. They are turned on by the sight of helpless and teetering females who, in fantasies, can easily be cornered and taken. In China, until the practice was banned, they used to bind the feet of daughters for the same reason. They learnt and we are starting to. Trendsetters are seeing a significant shift: the coolest of chicks now want shoes that care for feet; Karl Lagerfeld’s last show had his models in twinkling trainers; brogues are top sellers. Companies making comfy shoes are making huge profits. Thompson caught the zeitgeist. Bless her.