I’m not having it. I’m sorry I don’t care who declares it, I am simply not having it. And this is about so much more than fashion, or trends or The Next Big Thing. I love the bi-annual fashion weeks as much as the next fashion victim (I even covered London fashion week for two seasons, attending thirty shows in four days) but this sort of scare-mongering just makes me cross.
If you haven’t read a newspaper or magazine in the last few weeks then you may not know to what I am referring. I’ve only had one eye on the comings and goings in New York, London and Milan this season so I was slow to catch on. I am in the process of moving house for the second time in nine months – primary school catchment areas, I know, soo last year – so thank goodness for my mum saving the Times 2 coverage for me otherwise I might not have heard until it was too late. Note to self: pay more attention to Paris.
I wouldn’t mind the headline ‘Flats Are Back’, that I can handle. We’ve heard it all before – ‘Grey/navy/brown is the new black!’ ‘Bootcuts are back!’ ‘If you buy one thing this season, make it a pink coat!’ so the attention grabbing prediction made to look like gospel doesn’t ruffle me. But, the sneeky and less ballsy, afterthought-style, smaller font declaration underneath that stated, ‘A sharp heel will soon look wrong’ is absolutely not on.
I wore stilettos for the entire nine months of my pregnancy, Victoria Beckham wears 4 inches to school football matches and for the love of all things so wrong they’re right, the divine Eddie Izzard wears a heel to perform stand-up. Do we really need to be told where and when a sharp heel is appropriate? This is a non-issue because the stiletto heel is a staple, it’s a modern classic, it’s practically Paul McCartney for gawd’s sake. That is to say, the stiletto heel has been around for so long, in so many permutations, with so many faithful followers that it doesn’t matter what else comes along to replace it. Even if it is widely agreed that it is no longer as great as it once was, that its offspring is more influential and then is finally declared dead, it will rise again.
You see this is about much more than footwear although yes I am biased and yes I have a massive investment to protect. The stiletto heel is not only the ultimate sign of femininity, it is the one item in your wardrobe which is both empowering without being mannish and sexy without being slutty (well usually, and actually while we’re on the subject, there’s nothing wrong with the odd pair of F*** Me shoes). There is nowhere these days where a stiletto won’t do. We wear them to work, we wear them to funerals, we wear them in the garden and on occasion we wear them in bed (don’t pretend you haven’t). I would have worn them to give birth but for a very sudden and unplanned C-section. We love them, men love them, children love dressing up in them, in fact I only recall one occasion when someone objected to my spike heels. Surprisingly it was on a date. Said date was concerned my heels would damage his wood flooring. Interestingly as it turned out he wasn’t as worried about already having a girlfriend, but he has four children under the age of four now so he is probably over that particular flooring niggle.
Now, I have flat shoes in my repertoire, of course I do, even before I had a child I had footwear I nicknamed my ‘city break shoes’. These shoes looked reasonable (I’ve just gone back over this sentence and changed ‘good’ for ‘reasonable’ because let’s face it, they’re still flat shoes that make your legs look stumpy) allowing me to traipse around all day without ending up crippled. You know the sort of thing; biker boots, Adidas Gazelles, ballet pumps. However, the photographs used to illustrate the point that ‘low heels have stolen the fashion high ground’ (Ha! It even sounds implausible) showed style heavyweight and Elle editor in chief Lorraine Candy in Prada loafers and Vogue style editor Emma Elwick-Bates in Yves Saint Laurent biker boots. These women know what they’re doing and have access to designers that most of us don’t. Both were pictured working looks that kinda worked particularly given the setting of London fashion Week, but they were hardly groundbreaking. Surely this new flat would have to be something exciting and cutting edge to single-handedly knock the leg-lengthening, confidence boosting, crowd pleasing stiletto court off its top spot in the nation’s closets? Well, the new flat isn’t new at all, as with most fashion it is a reworking of an old favourite; it’s a biker with bits cut out, a ballet slipper with embellishment or a loafer with a ridged sole. Come off it! Sex and the City didn’t base an entire episode around an Ugg boot or a flip flop now did it? And don’t tell me this kind of footwear will be worn on red carpets and advertising billboards anytime soon. It simply isn’t going to happen. By all means go out and buy a loafer or a pump, but don’t bin your high heels just yet. No-one ever slipped on a flat shoe and thought, “Ahh now my outfit is complete, now I am ready to take on the world.”
Fold up your flats, stuff them in your bag for emergencies and give thanks to Blahnik and Choo. I declare the heel is here to stay and what a relief because I’m four inches taller this way and you know what, it’s a much better view from up here.