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Breaking away from the classics, this season shoe designers take bold strides, creating works of art, from the ankle down.

Sex sells, and no woman’s accessory has been more sexualized than the shoe. The acceptance, nay embrace, of retifism (shoe fetishism) within mainstream culture has given designers the freedom to take their craft to daring levels of creativity, not to mention sexuality. With the blurring of the gender boundaries, man is no longer the only hunter, as predatory killer heels will attest. Take McQueen’s fetish-inspired studded thigh high boots – sculpted to seductively caress and accentuate the lower limb, while the rivet seam suggests a hard dominatrix edge – or Pierre Hardy’s lace up platforms that are reminiscent of the cobbler’s last, tracing the line of the arch. They may not be for every woman, but she knows who she is, and she knows just what she wants. This season even Bruno Frisoni made a departure from signature frothy bows, instead enslaving the foot and ankle in bondage beauties finely crafted from leather ribbon for a tough but sexy image.

Fantasists despair not, big playful bows are still a mainstay of this season’s fashions, such as Miu Miu’s dreamy vertiginous slingbacks; dusted in glitter and presenting dainty peep toes in a pretty shiny bow, they are the ultimate in girlie chic. While uppers display decorative abandon, even soles have come under scrutiny, thanks to the celebrated cordwainer Christian Louboutin, whose scarlet underbelly marks out his creations from across a crowded room. Stacked platforms with a clumsy double look have also become a favorite among fans of extreme elevation.

Since French Roger Vivier made popular the stiletto heel in early 1950s, this seductive supporting pillar has played a starring role in construction of each style in terms of form, but today’s masters of the sole have transformed them from a mundane block, to a sculptural visual focal point. Chanel’s daring gravity-defying chopped heel, cleverly reconnected through a colored ring – David Copperfield eat your heart out – or the sinister axes affixed to Karl Lagerfeld’s slim stiletto heel, are just some of the examples of how every angle is carefully considered.

Provocative, sassy and eye catching, there is no better quick fix for enhancing the female form than a dashing pair of soaring stilettos. As Marilyn Monroe famously quipped: “I don’t know who invented high heels, but all women owe him a lot.”

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