Having spent much of my career in the world of fashion as an editor and journalist for Harper’s Bazaar, owner of an accessory boutique and as a personal style consultant translating fashion trends into wearable possibilities, I am intrigued by the accessory trends over the past several years.

First it was the oversized embellished handbag, adorned with zippers, buckles rings, and straps. Women willing to rally to the fashion ” must have ” of the moment, were toting over the shoulder purses filled with the weight of a small suitcase. Chiropractors were kept busy relieving the pains of aching shoulders and misaligned backs.

This spring season the action has moved to the foot and the shoe has become the object of designer fascination, along with much of the embellishment and detail that previously adorned the purse. The spring offerings have given me lots of food for thought as I thumb through newspapers, magazines, catalogs and view the fashion websites. Like most women I can simply fall in love with a pair of shoes, but many of this seasons offerings could lead to quite a rocky love affair.

Sky high heels, thick weighty platforms and wedges; Chanel wrapped the img-thing.jpgheels in lace, Christian Louboutin in etched metal and Derek Lam has us balancing on a conical heel made of plexi. A delight to look at, but the line at the podiatrist office will be very long. Towering five inch heels press all the weight onto the ball of the foot, essentially you are walking on tiptoes. Ouch!!

Christian Dior created a heel sculpted in the shape of a Fertility Goddess, also a sling back, open toe, sting ray and crocodile red heel and platform with enough cuff straps, wraps, straps and buckles for anyone with dominatrix fantasies to be overjoyed. In fact bondage seemed to be a constant theme throughout the designer collections.

During the showing of the spring collections models teetering on five inch heels were tumbling and falling as they walked the runway. Imagine the scenario of the woman dashing down the street only to find her needle thin heel caught in the crack of the sidewalk and her ankle twisting in all those buckles and chains.

Has it ever occurred to you that most of the designers of these imaginative object of desire are men who never will never have to figure out how to be graceful or comfortable toting a 15 pound purse, or tottering about in a needle like heel that could serve as a weapon if needed?

The language of clothes is a fascinating conversation. Often things that we choose to wear are visual symbols spilling thoughts and ideas we may not verbalize. High heel shoes have always been considered sexually attractive. They make the legs look longer, and create what anthropologists describe as the courtship strut.

Maybe the designers are on to something. In this tumultuous moment we are in, men and women are feeling fragile and everyone would like a hero or a heroine to come to their rescue.
Gwen Mazer is an author, style consultant, speaker, and workshop leader with over 25 years of professional experience. Her recent book, Wise Talk Wild Women,  is a collection of intimate conversations, life stories of a diverse group of well-known women. Mazer was a Fashion Editor for “Harper’s Bazaar”, Creative Director for Esprit, a fashion executive for major retail companies in the United States and Europe, and created her own signature boutiques in New York and San Francisco.  Her work has been featured in  The New Yorker, Vogue, Woman’s Wear Daily, San Francisco Business Times, and the San Francisco Chronicle. In addition, she has appeared on many broadcast programs, including the ABC-affiliate KGO series, “Profiles of Excellence”, ABC’s “View From the Bay”, Comcast CNN and The Tavis Smiley Show. She has addressed various organizations, including the National Charity League, the Commonwealth Club, the World Affairs Council, and the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco. As owner of Total Image Management, she has led seminars and advised numerous corporations, professional and individual clients about the power of personal presentation and inner spirit as aspects of communication. The article above is excerpted from Mazer’s biweekly Wise Talk Newsletter.

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  • Rita@Goldivas April 29, 2009 at 10:19 am

    It hurts just to look at those shoes! I think very high heels are the modern equivalent of foot-binding, designed to restrict women. And, how attractive is it to be tripping & falling? These shoes set the women’s movement back a few years.

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