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Mon, Mar 09, 2009
Urban, The Straits Times
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Well heeled
by Noelle Loh


Off with the schoolgirlish Mary Janes and warrior- woman gladiator sandals. The ankle strap has fastened onto a more grown-up look for spring/summer.

Lanvin went for pretty, satin ribbons tied in a bow, while Gucci updated last season's fierce shoes with three thick straps for a "don't mess with me" appeal.

Whether dainty or dangerous, here's how to look the bees-knees in the new ankle straps.

Tall order: This best suits those with long legs, as ankle straps can make short limbs look stumpy. Those who are short should opt for super high heels with thinner straps.

Show some leg: The idea is to show off the ankle strap, making this season's cropped pants a perfect pairing. Wear skirts that end at or above the knee or you will look a frumpy secretary.

Watch the details: Saggy straps look sloppy but those which are too tight will look like they are strangling your ankles.


While previous seasons saw designers give women a leg up in the heel department, now there is a boost to the sole too.

Industry trade journal Women's Wear Daily calls them platforms with 'geisha flair'.

Instead of bulky Spice Girl versions, the updated design tapers slightly at the bottom, creating a sleeker silhouette that makes its wearer appear to be floating.

Jil Sander designer Raf Simons even made them in the same colour as the shoe upper for a clever, hidden effect.

Britain-based Brooke & Basso went with pop colours and floral prints to match its electro Japanese-inspired clothes.

Subtle or super, spring's platforms, which are shoes with raised soles, make tottering around in them a class, not clown, act.

Sleek is chic: Pairing platforms with flared trousers may have been groovy in the 1970s but not now. Take your cue from the runways of Gucci, Prada and Jil Sander and don slim-fit garb that matches the platform's new sleekness.

Where to wear: While they are sleeker now, platforms are still considered casual shoes. For a more formal look, make sure the platform area is the same colour as the shoe upper.

Practice makes perfect: Platforms are tricky shoes to manage - supermodel Naomi Campbell famously took a catwalk tumble in a Vivienne Westwood pair in the 1990s.


The tribe has spoken. The shoe design tribe, that is. From last year's cowboy chic, this spring designers have boot-scooted to the Wild West and beyond for some ethnic inspiration.

Think Native American culture (Marios Schwab's leather flap of an ankle strap). Or ancient Egyptian tombs (Anna Sui's eagle-motif sandal). And, of course, traditional African tribes (Louis Vuitton's clunky, feathered stilettoes).

Escape into exotica - in shoes made not just for walking, but also for flights of fancy.

Match, not mix: This is one of the least versatile trends, so be careful what you match the shoes with.

Keep it simple: For a fail-proof look, keep your outfit plain or make sure it shares the same shades found on your shoes.

Cheat tip: All those ethnic-inspired details such as feathers and beads can look a little too Pochahontas. For a safer, more classic look, try espadrilles, wooden heels or Aztec prints and cut-outs, which are also big this season.


For a look that creeps up on you this season, think crocodiles. And snakes. Any reptile, really.

Yes, reptile skin on shoes is back.

This spring, however, lizard leathers come not just in natural colours, but in out-of-this-world shades too.

British fashion designer Matthew Williamson, for example, sent models slithering down the runway in fuchsia snake skin stilettoes.

Over at Miu Miu, designer Miuccia Prada painted croc skins a bright yellow and wrapped them round her heels.

Then there are those who prefer the natural look - think Bottega Veneta's croc skin wedges in tan and Carolina Herrera's basic black snake skin pumps.

Good times or bad, you've got to admit that croc rocks.

Handle with care: Snake and croc skins are thin and fragile. Rub them gently with leather conditioning cream to keep their suppleness. Also, keep them away from heat as high temperatures will dry out the leather and cause it to tear easily.

Fake it: You do not need to splurge on the real deal. Look for coloured faux leather or snake skin prints that create the same effect for less.

Subtle touch: The texture of reptile skin is an easy and classy way to add special interest to an outfit.



From the whimsical to the weird, statement heels have been a hit with designers since 2007.

This season though, they teeter into the realm of art - outrageous designs that occasionally defy the concept of balance. (Well, they certainly gave models on the spring/summer 2009 runways the wobbles.)

British bad boy Alexander McQueen even crafted a metallic heel into a wavy curve, while French label Celine's futuristic cut-out platform led's Nicole Phelps to call it a 'misstep'.

We say she's missing the point.

During dreary times like these, they are something fantastic to fall head over heels in love with.

Keep your balance: Fashion-wise, that is. Cut back on the prints and accessories when wearing such bold statement heels.

Flaunt them: Show off such daring designs with a mini skirt or ankle-grazing, skinny trousers. Any longer and you will conceal the shoe's artistry.

Foot the bill: Just as with artwork, designer statement heels are worth the splurge because of the unique design.

This article was first published in Urban, The Straits Times.

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