Monday, February 16, 2009

High Altitude Harbingers of Change

I last wore shoes like this when I was about 17. I remember red ones with a bow on the front, just like this sketch of mine. (Only there were no imps playing inside.) And I had some super-glam gold lamé ones. That is ‘lamé’ with an accent on the e to denote glittery fabric, which is now so out of fashion that you may not have heard of it. Without the accent you’ll think I’m writing ‘lame’ which is a whole different word. Although if you wear shoes like this for long enough you get quite lame quite fast.

I’m careful about confusion these days because I was interviewed by a journalist for Sunday magazine before Christmas for a story on optimism, and gave her a list of qualities which I thought were good to have if you wanted to live a cheerful life. I gave her words like gratitude, calm, playfulness etc and included civility in there. She wrote that down as servility. Just a little bit off the mark!

Anyhow, back to shoes. I note that in the fashion-show world, heels have never been thinner or higher than they are now. You too will have seen leggy models falling off the things on slippery runways. (Who knows why they’re called runways, because models lope, stride or teeter or but are rarely seen running. Shoes like this would, anyway, make that impossible.)

But given that it was the 1960s when heels were last like this, I begin to wonder whether women’s shoes and times of great change are not somehow connected. The last time girls wore stilettos was a pretty crazy period when old ways were crumbling and everything was shifting from post-war to new-era. And now, here they are again, just as everything seems new and challenging all over again. It’s as if the more uncertain the times, the higher the heel. I await the next few years with interest. Watch for women’s heels to go shorter and wider next year as the world strives for more balance and stability. Like the impish fellow on the slide, we are in for a ride.

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