August 22 2014

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You Can Walk A Mile In These Shoes


In terms of fashion pet peeves, few things are so cringe-worthy as a woman wearing heels she can’t handle. Some (certain Paris Vogue editors and street style stars come to mind) have the ability to glide by in six-plus inches, while others are forced into an awful hobble accompanied by an appropriately pained expression.

For the latter, it’s heartening to see shoe designers addressing the not-so-sexy issue of comfort. In Paris, I went to see shoe label Aperlaï, whose designer, the very stylish Alessandra Lanvin, doesn’t want you to have to stow a pair of Repetto BB’s in your bag in case you can’t find a taxi. “In Paris, we walk everywhere,” said Lanvin. “You should be able to do that in your heels.” Her techniques include padding the sole where the ball of the foot rests and creating a heel that’s essentially an elongated pyramid with the top lopped off. It reads spindly but is secretly sturdy. And seeing as Lanvin produces in the same Italian factory as Alaïa and Prada, these ideas are all but guaranteed to have excellent execution. The master cobblers were also able to sew raffia into leather for a gorgeous grouping for Spring 2011 (above left). Other collection highlights: the classic spectator recast in mesh and leather with a flash of color, and slingbacks in navy silk faille that tie up like a gift.

Then there’s Korean-born designer Raphael Young, whose in-your-face fierce aesthetic would lead you to believe that the idea of a comfortable heel would be completely anathema (below left). But Young, who this week opened his first boutique (at 23 Rue Jean-Jacques Rousseau, in the first arrondissement), grew up exposed to the ne plus ultra of cobbling craftsmanship. His uncle (through his adoptive French family) is Alexandre Narcy, who set up the shoe studio at Yves Saint Laurent. During a visit to Young’s boutique, the designer revealed that he’ll soon unveil a patented technology that makes 110-mm shoes feel like your Nikes. Here’s to the end of the High-Heel Hobble.

Photo: Courtesy of Aperlai



  1. amandaHarlech says:

    This topic is one of the most absurd things about fashion! How is it possible that shoe design is all bout form and NOTHING about function?!

    It is obscene to sell shoes for more than a 1000 dollars that are painful and plainly unhealthy.

    Where is the respect for women in this “style” decisions?!

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