If you want to get *really* high on heels then there’s a simple answer: platforms! Combined with a high heel, a platform can add many inches of height but without the pain from a really high spike stiletto.
The key to these awesome leather ankle-strap stilettos is indeed in the platform. While the heel is 7.9 inches high, a 2.4 inch platform makes a net rise of a manageable 5.5 inches.
Platforms are just fine with celebrity socialite Paris Hilton who is a devotee of the stepped-up look, and the comfort that platforms bring. Paris has confessed her love for platforms on her official website, saying:
I love front platforms. The trend is amazing because it makes shoes more comfortable while keeping the height to make your legs look longer and leaner.
But not everyone is a fan of platforms. Those who are against the trend even include legendary high heels designer Manolo Blahnik. Manolo once confessed that he “can’t stand platforms.”
Judging by the number of platforms on the market though, Manolo might be alone in thinking that.
If two leading shoe designers are doing it, then we think that makes it a shoe trend. The trend we’re talking about is single sole (no platform) glitter pumps. The designers who are getting into the festive spirit with this blinged-out footwear include Jimmy Choo and Casadei, with both labels glittering up their most famous shoes for the occasion.
Jimmy Choo’s sparkly number is the label’s iconic 5 inch Anouk pump in a champagne fabric with a delicate leopard-skin effect. The Choo glitter high heel is available from Choo’s own website for $625.
Meanwhile, Cesare Casadei has plenty of his own bling going on with his own iconic pump. The shoe in question is the Blade heel, featuring Casadei’s engineering masterpiece of a 5 inch stiletto.
Ah, Jimmy Choo. If you could have just one of his iconic shoes in your closet which would it be? We reckon these drop dead gorgeous Magenta lovelies would have to be pretty close to the top of the list. Elegant and unendingly chic, the Lang patent leather sandals are power lunches, brunches with the girls, special occasions and Saturday night style all wrapped up in one beautifully girly, totally sophisticated package.
The official name of this magenta hue is Jazzberry, which calls to mind cocktails, luscious berries and all things beautiful. The curved strap makes good on this promise with sensual details to wrap around the ankle and support the foot. £475 net-a-porter.com.
Jimmy Choo has always done contemporary so well. With the new Mei heel, the label is setting the fashion agenda, re-introducing the almond toe shape after many years of pointy toe domination. And with a 3 inch set-back heel, this Italian-made shoe seems perfect for the office. What could brighten up a dull Monday better than a shiny red patent leather designer high heel?
Mei is a shrewd move by the Jimmy Choo brand. For the past couple of years Choo has been ensuring it has wardrobe staple pumps in a variety of heel heights which never seem to go out of fashion. Choo’s 5 inch Anoukwas introduced as a direct competitor to Christian Loboutin’s Pigalle (compare them here), but other offerings have been more sensible – and marketable – in terms of heel height. Hence in recent years we’ve seen the 4 inch Abel labelled as a great designer work pump. The even more practical 3 inch Mei now joins that list.
We will be watching for more news about Mei but we already predict that this shoe from the Autumn / Winter 2014 Jimmy Choo collection will be a raging success. You can pick up a pair online now from mytheresa.com for €425.
Earlier this year we raved about Jimmy Choo’s new Tarida single-soled, simple slingback: what could be better than this, we asked? Not much perhaps, but Choo has now perhaps come up with something equal for the label’s Winter 2014 collection.
This latest sexy slingback is called Denial, and it differs from Tarida in that it has a more practical heel height: 3.3 inches verses 3.8 inches (both shoes have sexy spike heels). Both shoes also have a sleek, single strap slingback strap but the Denial has this back strap positioned asymmetrically which gives it a point of difference and sophistication.
The major feature of Denial is an asymmetrically positioned front piece as opposed to the plain front of Tarida. Currently available only in black, this slingback retails from Jimmy Choo for $795.
Many high-end labels seem to frown upon using discount sites to clear excess stock. One reason may be that really hot-selling labels would rather produce a limited number of heels and keep the demands (and their profits) high. Another reason may be the risk of counterfeiting: as soon as a brand increases the number of sites on which its shoes are available, consumers may become less surprised to see those shoes everywhere on the net – and less vigilant against counterfeiting.
Who knows? Anyway, what we do know is that Jimmy Choo and a whole heap of other leading brands (including Fendi, Giuseppe Zanotti and Charlotte Olympia) are happy to sell their shoes at a substantial discount to consumers via leading online retailer Bluefly.
The heels pictured here are Jimmy Choo’s Abel, a four inch heel in metallic gold leather. Abel usually retails for $625 but it is available at a 20% discount via Bluefly for only $500. As an added bonus, Bluefly is currently offering a $50 discount to orders over $300 with no exclusions (the offer code cannot be combined with any other promotion). Follow the link for further details.
The usual warnings with discount sites apply to Bluefly: don’t expect to see the full range of a designer’s products on the site, and don’t expect a full range of sizes for each product either (that said, the metallic gold Abels are currently available in all sizes except 6.5). But if you’re prepared to hunt around many designer shoe bargains may come your way, and that sure beats paying full price.
Back in April 2012 poor old Christian Louboutin was quoted as telling Grazia that he had “not so much sympathy” for women wearing his designer high heels. “High heels are pleasure with pain. If you can’t walk in them, don’t wear them,” Christian thundered, causing a predictable outcry.
This followed 2011’s hullabaloo when Christian told the New Yorker ‘I HATE the whole concept of comfort!” Women in ugly shoes wrote furious newspaper columns in protest. These were largely ignored and sales of the red soled shoes continued their rise.
Fast-forward a year or so and Christian Louboutin says he was misquoted on the issue of comfort. So what did he really think about the importance of comfort to wearers of high heels? And what about two other leading design brands in Jimmy Choo and Manolo Blahnik? Do they really care about comfort when producing their high-end (and high-price) stilettos? Who cares more?
And, while we’re at it, do these big-name designers ever try on their shoes themselves?
So many questions! For the answers to all of them, read on.
Gold medal for comfort: Manolo Blahnik
The granddaddy of shoe designers (he turns 72 this year) gets first prize of the three contenders for caring about comfort when designing women’s shoes. How much does Manolo Blahnik care about comfort when designing shoes? The short answer is that he cares about it a lot. In 2012 Manolo told the Telegraph that comfort was “of paramount importance.” He continued:
Some people say you have to suffer, to have high heels that hurt. But being miserable is unnatural. There is a trick that you master over years and years, so you know exactly where the pressure on the foot will be, and that’s where you place the heel. If it’s a minute millimetre out of the way, it will be a flop.
In March 2014 Manolo confirmed to the Observer that “Women’s comfort is of great importance to me.” So what is the secret to designing comfortable stilettos? “The key to making a high shoe comfortable is symmetry and balance. Everyone in my factories tries on the shoes until we have it just right. I have learned over the years that there are many little tricks, like making sure the ball of the foot is comfortable first.”
That just leaves the question of whether Manolo Blahnik tries on the shoes he designs. Well, the answer is yes… and no. Back in 2011, Manolo told Hemispheres “Oh goodness, immediately, yes! If it’s wrong, I can detect it in seconds!” However, last month the designer confessed to the Observer that his body was no longer up to it: “Sadly, I can’t do that any more since I broke my tendon,” he said.
Not to worry, as workers in Manolo’s factory in Milan still road test his shoes. “One, she is huge, with big, Mediterranean feet, but I know 100 per cent that if she can walk in my shoes properly, the shoe is good,” he quipped to the Telegraph just after turning 70.
Silver medal for comfort: Jimmy Choo
Jimmy Choo’s attitude to comfortable shoes seems unequivocal: back in 2013 he was asked what shoes he would take travelling if he could only take one pair. “It would have to be a comfortable pair,” Jimmy told the Telegraph‘s Travel section. “When we walk we need comfortable shoes to hold our feet. I also like to wear slippers. I’m always reminding my family, ‘Slippers, slippers, slippers!’. Feet are very important.”
However Jimmy Choo hasn’t been a part of the brand that bears his own name since selling out in 2001 after his relationship with Tamara Mellon broke down. Worse still, as Tamara asserted when promoting her autobiography in 2013, Jimmy never actually designed any of the shoes sold by the Jimmy Choo brand even when he was part of it. In 2013, when asked by interviewer Jenna Bush-Hager on America’s Today show whether Jimmy designed any of the heels, Tamara answered: “Not one. Not one sketch did I get from him. Not one.”
In truth, the Jimmy Choo range was always designed by Sandra Choi, Jimmy’s niece. Sandra is now the sole creative director at the label and, like her uncle, she also seems to take comfort seriously. “Talking about comfort is not very sexy,” Sandra told The Cut in 2013, “but our shoes do fit well, and that makes a difference when you need to stride around and look confident.” Speaking to the Fix last year, Sandra elaborated and explained her role as unofficial shoe-tester-in-chief:
First of all, I’ve been trying the shoes on for years. Since you put your entire body weight into your shoes, they should be comfortable! Maybe not for 24 hours a day, but if I can do something to make them a bit more comfortable without sacrificing style, I will. It’s not very sexy to talk about comfort, so we don’t talk about it. But people do mention it, and it’s a nice, proud factor of what we do.
The quality of leather helps the shoe shape to the foot. When we try on certain shoes for fittings, I don’t just try it on one person; I try it on several people! I like to have everyone try them on so I get an average fit. It doesn’t matter how beautiful a shoe is—if it’s uncomfortable, sometimes it’ll get left behind in your wardrobe.
Sandra’s obsession with comfort was confirmed in an interview with Tina Loves in 2012: “I actually try them all on and all the samples are made in my size and the girls in the office actually trade them around to make sure that they’re okay,” she said. And, as if that wasn’t enough, here’s what Sandra Choi told New York Magazine in 2013 about whether she tried on all the Jimmy Choos herself:
I do! I’m a little obsessed with how they look. We have a joke that everyone who works for the team must have a size 37 foot so that they can try on the shoes for me. My right foot is a size 37, my left foot is a little smaller.
Bronze medal for comfort: Christian Louboutin
As we noted above, in 2011 Christian Louboutin caused waves by telling the New Yorker that he hated the concept of comfort. That quote got a lot of headlines, and the designer elaborated on his passionate dislike in the same interview: “It’s like when people say: ‘Well we’re not really in love but we’re in a comfortable relationship.’ You’re abandoning a lot of ideas when you’re too into comfort.” Christian wasn’t a fan of the word “comfy” either:
Comfy, that’s one of the WORST words! I just picture a woman feeling bad, with a big bottle of alcohol, really puffy. It’s really depressing, but she likes her life because she has comfortable clogs.
All of this should have been enough for readers to tell that Christian was teasing a little, but it didn’t stop a PR brouhaha developing. Reflecting on the comment to Metro in 2012 Christian described it as “sort of a misquote.” “I have no problem with the idea of comfort,” the designer continued, “but it is not an important thing aesthetically. If you look at a shoe and immediately say it looks very comfortable, in terms of design, it is not going to excite me. Of course, I am not putting nails in my shoes to ensure everybody is in pain, but a heel is not a pair of slippers and never will be.’
Those comments may not win Christian a gold medal for prioritising comfort, but is that such a bad thing? Christian further explained his priorities to CBS News in 2013:
Design is my most important thing, but then after I have tricks to make in order to make those shoes as comfortable as possible, but it’s true that the comfort is not my first thing. If you look at my shoes I just don’t want you to tell me “Oh my God it looks so comfy.” That’s not a thing that I would take as a compliment.
Knowing all this, has Christian Louboutin ever tried wearing his own shoes? The answer is yes, but only twice. The first time was at a cross-dressing themed party. “And another time I was making heels and I was trying to understand the balance, the center of gravity. It was very technical, so I can’t say I’ve worn high heels for excitement, or to feel like a woman,” the designer confessed to Popsugar Fashion News back in 2010.
Once or twice was enough though. “I can understand that it is not like walking on sneakers,” Christian told CBS News in 2013.
Here’s a little something that might well surprise you: according to leading shoemakers, the hardest high heel shoe to make is actually the one that looks the most simple. Believe it or not, those in charge of high heel design at Christian Louboutin and Jimmy Choo have both labelled the classic, high heeled pump as the trickiest shoe to perfect.
This perhaps curious fact was revealed back in 2012 when Christian Louboutin told the UK’s Metro website that “the most difficult style to do is the plain pump because it needs to look good on a variety of feet.” A year later Sanda Choi, the then newly-annointed head designer at Jimmy Choo, agreed. ” One of the hardest things to do is a plain pump, but just adding a millimeter here and there makes a difference,” she confessed to New York Magazine.
Louboutin stressed that window dressing could not save a poorly designed pump, and compared it to having a good bone structure. “Make-up will make you look good but it helps if you have a good skeleton to begin with,” he said. “You can add flowers and diamonds to a pump but, at the end of the day, the structure needs to be good.”
While producing the perfect pump might not be easy, Louboutin and Choo have come as close as anyone to achieving it. In each case, their plain black leather pump is the top-selling shoe in their range, and retails for around $600. The shoes are called the Pigalle and the Anouk respectively and we played “spot the difference” with them when the Anouk was first launched in 2012.
Jimmy Choo’s Catwalk Collection for Spring / Summer 2014 has arrived in store, and there are some hawt numbers included. None more than Keane, the bondage-sexy knee-high rope sandals which we’ve featured above. The intricate knotting details which comprise the uppers of these €1,395 high heel sandals are hand-constructed entirely from rope, but Jimmy Choo promises they will still provide enough support for a comfortable fit.
The knotty stilettos certainly look sensational on the long legs of Academy Award winning actress Nicole Kidman who returns to showcase a Choo collection for the third time. Nicole is photographed here in the rope gladiators by famous photographer Sølve Sundsbø. There are more glimpses of Nicole and the Keane heelsin the video celebrating the launch of Jimmy Choo’s Spring / Summer 2014 collection which is at the bottom of this post.
The best news (in case you were wondering) is that you don’t have to knot up these black and gold elaphe and rope stappy sandals every time you put them on! There’s a long zip fastner at the rear of the shoe, which also features the degrade patterning that we’ve seen on Choos in recent times. And the use of rope is not a Fifty Shades throw-back: the “modern jungle” is the inspiration for the 2014 collection, so its more a nod to Tarzan I guess.
If the new metallic Tilly slingbacks from Jimmy Choo’s spring / summer 2014 collection have a hint of familiarity about them, then that is no bad thing. Tilly is a beautiful slingback, in fashionable metallic finishings and with a practical 3.5 inch heel. All of which reminds me of the India slingbacks from Choo which were hot property a few years back. Also available in metallics, and with the same heel height as Tilly, the India sandals are sadly no longer stocked by Net-A-Porter in the gold and silver colors which we featured in our article about them a little while back.
The good news is that the closed-toed Tilly is a more than adequate replacement. This new slingback from Jimmy Choo’s Spring / Summer 2014 collection displays all the characteristic pride and confidence in simplicity of Choo’s best offerings. These Italian-made heels are available now in on-trend gold and silver metallics from mytheresa.com for $625.