High Heels

This season's shoes have grown dangerously tall. Renata Espinosa is on the case.

Chris Moore/Catwalking/Getty Images

Chris Moore/Catwalking/Getty Images

Christian Dior

The sculptured heel in the Christian Dior Spring 2009 show was quite literally, a sculpture. Designer John Galliano cited a research trip to Africa as inspiration for his tribal-tinged collection for Dior. Totally un-PC—the weight of French luxury literally supported on the back of an African figurine? Or subversive colonialist critique?

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Paris was agog last month when Alexander McQueen trotted out one impractical heel after another. His "tornado" style featured a gnarled, twisted heel (as seemingly tough to walk on as a broken twig), and these booties feature a shard of black crystal for support. It was supposed to be a statement about man vs. wild—we think it looks more like woman vs. pavement.

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Rodarte's elaborately constructed, hyper-romantic dresses can quickly veer into too-precious territory, so they've employed warrior-worthy footwear by Nicholas Kirkwood (last season they joined forces with Christian Louboutin) to tone down the saccharine sweetness.

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John Galliano

"John has loved a platform for some time," said Ken Downing of Neiman Marcus. Galliano once sent models out in shoes that were literally like walking on needles and orbs. He takes the shoe-as-sculpture to new heights with something Matthew Barney might have dreamed up for his Cremaster cycle.

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Madonna showed up to her NYC movie premiere in these controversial beauties from Lagerfeld's 2009 Chanel resort line. Karl's footwear designer, Laurence Decade, was supposedly handed a gun by Lagerfeld and told to make it into wearable art—and he did. Gun control activists are all over them, but in our opinion, better on the heel than in the hand.

Dimitrios Kambouris/WireImage for Marc Jacobs

Marc Jacobs

Nothing beats walking on water. The heels of these stilettos from Marc Jacobs' forties prarie-chic Spring 2009 collection are akin to waterfalls...spiky, spiky waterfalls. Wrapping your feet in straw straps only strengthens your back-to-the-land locavorism.

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Antonio Berardi

Victoria Beckham is no slouch when it comes to the red carpet. She wore Antonio Berardi's 6,000 dollar thigh-high PVC boots, sans heel, for an appearance at Macy's Herald Square in New York in September. That’s like walking on tiptoes all night long. Pain before fashion, Posh!

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Louis Vuitton

Beads, feathers, gold tassles, oh my. "I couldn't stop looking at the feet," said Downing. "With all these exciting shoes, it makes you long for an elevated runway again." Luxury giant Louis Vuitton, whose collections are designed by Marc Jacobs, knows that the more bells and strappy whistles you add to a shoe, the more women will salivate.