It’s still Fashion Month (Really? Still? For how much longer? When will the silly people in their silly outfits go away? Etc), and this week, “the fashion circus” (copyright all tabloids everywhere, including Mars) has moved on to Milan, where the clothes tend to get even fancier and the heels tend to get even higher on account of all the limousines. What limousines, I hear you cry, as food bank queues swell across the land. That would be the sleek black Mercedes, Lancias and (if your magazine is tanking) minibuses that everyone takes from show to show because it’s impossible to get to them all otherwise. The taxis will only stop at designated ranks, the public transport system is too slow and walking is… well, walking is only for the peasants. And anyway, you can’t really walk in heels.
Unless, that is, you are Giovanna Battaglia. The ever-chic senior fashion editor of Vogue Japan - a street style favourite - has cleverly cracked the lifelong problem of how to wear heels without putting your back out, crippling your toes or blighting your heels with blisters that no amount of Compeed will ever salve. “You’re constantly running around during Fashion Month — in heels. Is there a particularly comfy pair you swear by for long days?” Battaglia was asked recently. “Prada platforms,” our doughty heroine replied. “They have a big chunky heel, but they are light and comfortable. You can live in those!”
You can’t really “live” in high heels. It’s just a conceit; a handy chimera perpetuated by the fashion industry and women who have a car and driver on hand 24/7. Or is it?
High heels so comfy you can live in ‘em? High five! As someone who has spent aeons - and ££££ - searching for this holy grail, I couldn’t scroll down the page fast enough. Sure enough, there was a pic of the shoes in question; an undeniably divine pair of midnight blue velvet Prada sandals with heels that could only be described as “vertiginous”. I cross-checked them on the Prada website. Uh-huh. As I suspected, they were five inches high. I felt deflated. “What a rip-off,” I wanted to say, because it’s my eleven year old’s current favourite expression. She uses it every time she feels someone or something has misled her, and I felt misled.
I mean, come on; you can’t really “live” in high heels. It’s just a conceit; a handy chimera perpetuated by the fashion industry and women who have a car and driver on hand 24/7. Or is it? Tempting as it might be to call bullshit, I know women who pretty much do live in theirs. I know one who can’t drive a car without heels on, and another who genuinely wears them every day - not just kitten heels, but full-on four inchers. No doubt these women are delighted that Heels Are Back this season, but before I waste any more money adding to my collection with another pair, I’d love to know their secret. Like Victoria Beckham (“I just can’t do heels any more”, she claimed in 2016), I just can’t do heels any more. I know this because for the first time in 1046 years, I wore a pair to a party last weekend. Couldn’t. Stand. It. I lasted until Chaka Khan came on, at which point, after several seconds of dancing like Jean-Claude Van Damme in Kickboxer (google it) I kicked them off and proceeded to enjoy my evening - stumpier, yes, but not in pain.
Broadly speaking, I agree with the brilliant designer Simone Rocha. “I always have shoes which you can walk in. I don’t tell fairy tales. I tell real stories, for real women,” she recently told The New York Times. And yet. Sometimes I look at my racks of three, four and five inch beauties and wonder what became of the girl who wore them. The less you wear heels, the less inclined you are to be tolerant of them. Soon, if you’re not careful, you’ll find yourself glowering at their stupid, frivolous heights and resenting them. For what? For the fact that you became middle-aged? Honey, it’s not the shoes’ fault. Giovanna Battaglia’s “you can live in those” pronouncement might be a construct, but at least she’s keeping the dream alive. Okay, so she has a car and driver, which makes it easier. But whether you travel by horse and carriage, Uber or the 46 bus, however prosaically flat-shoed your life, there’s still a place for fairy tales.