Sunday, January 24, 2010

Festive Footwear

Just back from holidaying in the cold Northern Hemisphere where temperatures were well below zero (minus 12). We survived snow drifts; black ice and slush; and the Scottish New Year (Hogmanay). Truth be told, I am delighted to be back in Perth, WA and the glorious heat. I know it does not suit everyone but I like not having to wear clothes.

Don’t get me wrong I haven’t gone au natural, its just when you are not used to it, having to wear layers of clothing can be quite fatiguing. So the prospect of T shirt and shorts is most attractive.

We spent some time in Vienna and Munich just over Christmas and saw the wonderful Christkindlmarkt , (Christmas Market). In Germany, they celebrate Christmas Eve with Christmas Day, more or less, business as usual. Trying to find a restaurant open on Christmas Eve was quite a challenge and it makes eminent sense to book up early. This year we spent Christmas Eve eating in the same beer keller Adolf Hitler held his early National Socialist Workers Party meetings, all those years ago. In the Haufbrauhaus after a few beers it is quite easy to imagine how it might have been especially since not much has changed to the interiors of the buildings. Munich now is more famous for the Oktoberfest and the beer is everything they say. Once you hear the Oom pa pa band you have it in your head all day.

Travelling through the various cities I always keep an eye out for the shoe fashions and in particular was keen to see what people were wearing in the extremely cold conditions. Uggs an Mukluks (boots worn by indigenous North Americans) very much to the fore and for practical reason. On the other hand (or foot) the fashionista seemed to prefer ankle boots in a variety of guises. Between Munich, London and Dubai we had a good opportunity to scan what Jimmy Choo, Alexander McQueen and Ferragamo etc., had in the way of fashionable footwear and the higher heel certainly prevails. It is likely therefore to be the same down under for the coming season. Not perhaps by coincidence the media was also full of articles on the healthiness of heel height and the problems of with out of control drinking, especially among young women. The combination of high heels and drink is a dangerous one as journalists are at pains to point out.

Inebriated Chavs and Ladettes terrorise the streets at night, apparently (although I did not meet any). Dubbed ‘hell on heels’ the ladettes are as much trouble to authorities as ‘'hoodies’ or ‘hoons without wheels’. This I believe is one reason why high heels in particular are so fervently condemned in the media. Like jeans and T-shirts once were for adolescents, high heels have become the badge of the cafe belle or out of control girl. Of course the vast majority of medical claims made against the high heel shoe are quite factious.

To the very best of my knowledge in the structure of the shoe, heel height is matched to the toe spring which in turn defines the tread line over the ball of the foot. Provided these match and the shoe has sufficient volume to accommodate a kinetic foot (moving foot) then heel height can be as high as a toe spring will allow. Comfort is subjective and gait adaptation is essential but for some, power heels would be perfectly acceptable. Applying the Chaos Theory however, when things go wrong then they will go very wrong but otherwise for a minority high heels (matched with appropriate toe spring etc.) present no real issue whatsoever. The consequence of upper body adaptation (much cited by heel height critics) remains unproven with the only real independent research still undecided about the evils of 'ankle breakers.' In the end it all becomes a matter of opinion.

Condemnation of high heels has historically been a misogynistic preoccupation. No reason to assume the present media interest is any different. As stereotyping goes, high heeled shoes represent for some permissiveness; yet somewhat ironically, modern feminists consider power dressing a badge of emancipation.

No doubt the debate will continue here in the coming season when towering heels once again prevail as the preferred style.

Excerpt taken from the Afternoons with Jenny Seeton Cutin FM 101, Perth Western Australia Friday 01/22/2010.

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