by Viktor & Rolf
In a week of Paris shows awash with neon fur and tawdry bondage referencing, Viktor & Rolf's red shoes gave the girls that increasingly rare but often-sought appearance: they looked ladylike.
David Elkouby understands the burning, irrational desire red shoes inspire. For it was he who in 2000 paid a staggering $666,000 for a pair of fourth-hand, sixty-one-year-old red court shoes. The fact they had no particular fashion distinction and that he had no intention of wearing them did nothing to dampen his ardour; these were no ordinary shoes. These were The Ruby Slippers.
Red shoes occupy an emotive place in cinematic history, from the protective force ensuring Dorothy's safe passage home to Kansas to the runaway shoes that danced Moira Shearer to death in Powell & Pressburger's version of the Hans Christian Andersen fable. To the contemporary fashion audience, red shoes are no less evocative; loaded with sexual allusion - Sandy Bunz's porn classic Red Shoes notwithstanding. They constitute a footwear category all of their own and present a specific sartorial dilemma to those women who prefer walking home free from salacious business propositions. At a stretch, red shoes can look cute, but only when every attempt is made by the wearer to work 'against' their sexuality, dressing them down with prissy tweed or workaday denim to clean up their bad reputation.
All the more reason, then, that Viktor & Rolf's succession of vermilion heels parading down their Spring/Summer 2004 catwalk was such an achievement. Neither tarty nor kooky, these red shoes combined elegance with a Judy Garlandesque sweetness that counter-balanced the collection's slightly masculine tailoring. In a week of Paris shows awash with neon fur and tawdry bondage referencing, Viktor & Rolf's red shoes - worn with every outfit from pink shorts and Resistance macs to dramatic trouser dresses - gave the girls that increasingly rare but often-sought appearance: they looked ladylike.
The real stars were the glitter-encrusted 'shimmer stilettos', on which every detail is just so. With a vertiginous, almost 's'-shaped heel that snakes up the back of the ankle to compliment the calf and the platform sole that curves and disappears under the ball of the foot to exaggerate the wearer's wiggle when they walk, they a joy to behold. Where the molten red, toffee-apple glitter threatens to cross over into Christmas party territory, the softest matte leather knot restores the necessary balance to put these shoes on every sophisticate's wish list this season. If you are lucky enough to lay hands on a pair, take Glinda's advice to Dorothy very, very seriously: 'keep tight inside them, their magic must be very powerful, or else she wouldn't want them so badly'.
Glitter-covered stiletto shoes by Viktor & Rolf, at Selfridges 0800 123 400