Spring shoes tough it out

M cClatchy NewspapersApril 5, 2009 

This summer, toesies clad in dainty styles are morphing into "caged feet."

Leather straps are radiating over arches, thrust forward by towering, heavy heels and thick shanks. Platforms made of punishing wood are back and heels come shaped like inverted triangles or hefty cylinders.

It's part medieval armor, part 21st century Don't Tread On Me.

And with the gladiator style still in full force since last summer, even flats are managing to look aggressive.

Laird Borrelli-Persson, senior features editor at Style.com, says she saw a lot of "hard and studded shoes" on spring/summer runways and that they're probably here to stay.

"I wouldn't be surprised to see that continuing as a trend because maybe, psychologically, when times are tough they help you feel like no one can beat [you] up," Borrelli-Persson says.

But as anyone who has ever shopped knows, for every trend there's a countertrend. Floral printed canvas shoes are also in vogue, although many are less delicate than in years past.

In haute circles, the "shoe as sculpture" persists, with "a lot of molded heels and sort of inventive platforms," Borrelli-Persson said, citing those at Giambattista Valli, Christian Louboutin, Lanvin and Louis Vuitton. Tribal motives, too, are still hot. Snakeskin real and faux is showing up in high volume, and leather fringes also are making appearances.

Overall, don't expect your feet to have an easier time of it anytime soon. "I don't see comfortable shoes becoming fashionable," Borrelli-Persson said.

"They seem to be getting higher and higher and higher."

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