Fashion is a treacherous business, and never more so than this season, as models stormed superslick or sand-covered runways and battled to stay upright on sky-high and ubercomplicated heels. Even seasoned pros such as Angela Lindvall took tumbles, with some, like Katie Fogarty, slipping twice in the same show. Dolce & Gabbana, Gianfranco Ferré, Prada, Miu Miu, Emilio Pucci and Gucci were among designers who packed their runways with footwear that cried “wow” as well as “ow.”
“This season, all the shoes were extremely high and very difficult to walk in,” said model Chanel Iman. “I pray before I go on the runway and concentrate so I don’t fall.”
Others weren’t quite so lucky. Fogarty and Yulia Kharlaponova were among those who took ungainly dives in Prada’s socklike booties, which were worn inside death-defying heels. But, according to Miuccia Prada, the shoes were not to blame for the toppling trend. Instead, she let the booties take the fall.
“I felt very sorry for a lot of the models in the shows struggling with the way the shoe business is going,” said Erin Mullaney, buying director at London-based Browns, but added she was nevertheless happy to see shoe designers pushing the boundaries.
At Louis Vuitton and Hermès, where the runways were coated with sand, jitters took hold before the show even started. But models polled backstage in Paris stoically accepted footwear foibles as an occupational hazard. “If they’re really difficult, I’ll be thinking how I’m not going to fall and just the next step and the next step and the next step,” said Jessica Stam.
“It’s all about weight distribution,” reasoned Lily Donaldson. “You have to lean back, like you’re walking down a mountain.”
That’s good advice, when some shoes packed a pitch of about 15 degrees between heels and soles. Donaldson’s other tips included coating soles with hair spray to create traction on slippery sets and scrunching toes to keep the shoes on. “If they’re really high, you want to be sure the heels really hit the ground,” she added.
"I always carry gel inserts,” said Kate Somers, who also recommended double-sided tape to keep errant shoes in place.
At Alexander McQueen, where a handful of shoes fell apart during rehearsal, models warily eyed some styles. “The glass ones are really sensitive,” said Kasia Struss.
“If I’m wearing wobbly [shoes], I try not to think about it too much,” said Taryn Davidson, echoing her catwalk colleagues. “I cross my fingers and toes and hope for the best.”
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