Analysis

Tuesday 22 July 2014

Aisling O'Connor: Climb down off the stilts girls, fashionistas can be such heels

Published 28/03/2013|04:00

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Victoria Beckham wearing flats

FOUR from the top and two from the bottom – the numbers just don't add up for former 'Countdown' co-host Carol Vorderman, who has just broken her nose in a horrific clash with a wall after a tumble down a flight of stairs. The brainiest of Granada's army of mid-morning lipstick hosts now seems anything but smart. By her own admission, she ran down a stairwell in four-inch heels – with her hands in her pockets.

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Many are wondering if the 'Loose Woman' had a greased wheel at the time of her fall, or if the whole thing was a nose job cover-up. The public eye can be a bitch. The bigger issue is the rise and fall of the high heel.

We're sorry to say it ladies, but in the name of health, safety and dignity, stilt-walking in the name of fashion is on the outs.

Images of Vorderman's black-and-blue bandaged face is emblematic of the problem with high heels – if we can't walk in them, are likely to sustain injuries and can't really afford them, why on earth do we wear them?

Shoe maestro Christian Louboutin's dramatic admission that "High heels are pleasure with pain!" is indicative of the fetishistic nature of the phenomenon. Like men following a football team destined to fail, many women experience twisted enjoyment from the physical and financial pain of association with their skyscraper heels.

In recent years, ladies' footwear trends have gone from high to ridiculous Everest proportions, as six inches have become the norm. Egged on by chauffeur-driven celebrities who only actually stand for half-an-hour a day, women have been fooled into thinking that the pain is worth the prestige.

Admitting to a shoe fetish delivered instant sophistication in the early 2000s. The retail antics of the 'Sex And The City' TV version of Imelda Marcos, Carrie Bradshaw, imparted upon a generation that a wall of designer shoe boxes is the ultimate personal goal.

What the lovers of hiked-up fashion didn't seem to get, is that they look ridiculous. They might look good for five minutes at the top of the stairs, before a literal fall or figurative tumble in self-respect. Standing still, one looks fabulous, but there is nothing attractive about a gal walking like she has piles.

Fear not, even before Vorderman had her senseless mishap, fashion and celebrity were waving in the flat pump. Second in shock-value only to the 'woman who walked into floors', is the conversion of tastemaker Victoria Beckham to sensible shoes.

In 2009 Posh professed her love of high heels, despite a reported case of bunions. "I beyond hate ballerina flats. I can't walk in them. I love heels," protested the fashion icon.

At least we know why she's been scowling in the face of superstardom for so long.

Cut to 2013, and you'll find pared-back fashion designer Vicky professing her love of a simple flat Chelsea boot, and more evidence of a sartorial transformation courtesy of a heel-less collaboration with Manolo Blahnik.

Beckham is no oracle in fashion. Stylists have been steadily taking the height down a few notches, as the likes of Michelle Obama and Marc Jacobs dictated the new wave. While Mrs Obama has single-handedly okayed it for the working mothers of America to embrace a ballet flat and kitten heel, this season Jacobs reinvented the 1960s winkle-picker for the new Millennium.

Even reigning queen of the WAGs, Coleen Rooney, decreed her loyal subjects to grab a ladder and climb down off their stilts after an excruciating week at the Aintree races last spring.

SO while, in theory, high heels are the embodiment of power, style and confidence, no other accessory or garment causes as much damage to the feet, bank account, gait and ego. It's time to give up the ghost, girls.

A shoe fetish took down Vorderman – a woman with even more brains than beauty who couldn't calculate her next move for want of looking chic.

But thanks to Vorderman's accident, we have a new poster girl for the fashion victim. Parents everywhere can wag their fingers at their teetering teens on a Saturday night with the cautionary tale of that 'consonant, please' woman.

Irish Independent

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