LUXURYCULTURE.COM - These shoes are made for walking?

LUXURY NOW / / THESE SHOES ARE MADE FOR WALKING?

Shoe designers step up to the mark, crafting the most beautiful forms for the well heeled.

Today's shoe maestros create art-inspired forms that will have them falling at your feet, but are we suffering for our art?

For centuries the dainty forms of women's shoes have been revered, sexualized even raised to a status of deification. From the Venetian courtesans of the 16th century, who teetered perilously over the bridges of Venice in stacked wooden soles, to the masochistic slenderness of the aptly named "stiletto" – named after the slim dagger, concealed within the coats of assassins (hence the moniker 'killer heels') – it is ironic that such a constraining frame should empower their wearer. However, for this season's "it" shoes, it is not simply a question of elevation or power games, but a celebration of creativity, as the most lionized cobblers take on the lofty heights of art and couture, crafting the most elaborate creations. Lengths of ribbon swathe the feet with wild abandon, from Bruno Frisoni's playful satin ruching, to Prada's decadently exaggerated forms,
while the vivid hues of Cesare Paciotti's harlequin inspired platforms and Devi Kroell's seductively curvaceous ankle boots illustrate the artistry of today's masters of the sole.

Just as these high-heeled beauties yield power over the wearer, so do their eponymous creators. Since the early 20th century, designers such as Salvatore Ferragamo have secured their place in the annals of fame, their names uttered passionately by the world's most stylish women. Manolos, Louboutins and Choos; an abridged single name suffices among the well heeled. These virtuosos have each become a byword for luxury, creativity and beauty in today's style lexicon. Like Ferragamo, these celebrated designers have crossed the confines of functionality, establishing themselves as artists in their own right.

In the 1970s, British shoemaker Terry de Havilland's wedges became staples among London's style cogniscenti, from David Bowie to Bianca Jagger. Today they are finding their way out of the closet and into display cases as an integral part of London's illustrious fashion history. Last year, Christian Louboutin's collaboration with filmmaker David Lynch on an exhibition seductively entitled "Fetish", which focused on the once taboo world of retifism, raised the designer's game, not to mention his celebrity kudos. Any gasps of shock at the beautifully sculpted, yet masochistic forms must have, undoubtedly, been drowned out by the sound of cash registers, as softcore thrillseekers continue to make a pilgrimage to procure a pair of Louboutin's iconic red soles. As London-based shoe designer Beatrice Ong's waggish play of words of the famous first century (B.C.) philosopher Lao-Tzu, states, "A journey of a thousand miles begins by finding your shoes". We're finding them... captivating.

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