Skyscraper heels: They may be painful and expensive but we've seen nothing yet

Harriet Walker
Tuesday 22 July 2008 00:00

Just when you thought heels couldn't get any higher, guess what: they have.

Earlier this week, Victoria Beckham turned heads – and possibly her own ankle – in Christian Louboutin's Lola pumps, with heels that measure an eye-watering five inches. Of course, Posh Spice doesn't have to walk, take public transport or even drive herself anywhere (she was wearing these to dinner with Eva Longoria), which is just as well: the Lolas are strictly a taxi-to-table type shoe.

Louboutin has by no means cornered the market on the skyscraper heel. Although both fashion-followers and chiropodists breathed a sigh of relief earlier this year when Alexander McQueen showed his elegant flats at Paris fashion week, the hugely high heels we've witnessed since Lanvin's spring 2006 collection appear to be here to stay – and what's more, they're growing.

Posh's Lolas, with their spindly, gold-tipped heel, pale in comparison to the shoes in Louboutin's autumn/winter range, which have a a whopping heel height of 5.5in (14cm).

If you're worried about how on earth a woman could walk in such contraptions, fear not. Very high heels have been engineered to include a secret platform hidden inside the shoe itself, covered by the leather upper, to make the arch gradient that little bit less steep.

Still, comfortable they are not. And if you're not considering having cosmetic toe amputation (LA surgeons have been offering this procedure for some time now, in order to help women fit into super-high shoes more easily) bear in mind that if you're going to subscribe to this trend, you're going to have to put the work in. Simply meeting friends, getting to your table in a restaurant or even visiting the loo will require military precision. Putting one foot before the other in super-high stilettos is anything but simple.

Never before have shoes made such a statement. Cartoonish clodhoppers have been big since the beginning of the year, when Marc Jacobs created his surreal cantilevered creations with a heel nestling under the sole of the foot. John Galliano at Dior also gave us punched leather brogues with four-inch heels, hidden platforms and toggle buttons that only well-trained ladies' maids could actually fasten. Even the traditionally minimalist Jil Sander got caught up in the circus, creating an ergonomic platform with heels that resemble industrial scaffolding.

Continuing the theme next season, you won't be able to miss Prada's creations, which have been likened to a prop from the new Batman flick. With giant folds of leather protruding from the back like wings, and a heel that has been compared to a Mr Whippy ice cream cone, subtle these aren't.

In the main, though, shoes are retreating: next season is about cool, not clownish. They may have returned to a certain old-school glamour, but what they lack in colour or embellishment they make up for with astronomical dimensions. Giambattista Valli's suede cut-out platforms have a pure Jean Harlow look (if Jean Harlow wore stilts). Lanvin reverts to a classic black-satin court, sparsely decorated with tasteful grosgrain bows and finished off with the spikiest six-inch heel you ever saw. Similarly, the Louboutin favourite for autumn remains the classic Pigalle court shoe (stacking up at 5.5in), once again featuring a double platform, and a stick-thin heel with a surface area of just one centimetre.

So if you're going to indulge, ladies, just make sure that you're not going anywhere with parquet flooring, manicured lawns, cracks in the pavement, a cattle grid, pebbles, cobbles, wrought-iron fire escapes or easily punctured inflatables. You have been warned.

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