Some audience members gasped, others held their breath.

As Chicago’s well-dressed and well-heeled gathered for "An Evening of Fashion and Art," raising more than $350,000 for the city’s Museum of Contemporary Art, attendees couldn’t help but pause and whisper about those shoes. Those shoes!

Those shoes, seemingly worn by virtually every model not donning boots in the evening’s fall-winter 2002 Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche collection, were Tom Ford’s bondage-style black lace-up stiletto sandals.

Striking and seductive, the sandals caused quite a stir, which peaked in intensity when one model tentatively teetered across the makeshift runway.

"I’m worried she’s going to pop her ankle," a woman in the crowd murmured, as one of the model’s ankles swung to one side.

The tall, thin beauty persevered, trekking to the end of the runway without toppling. The crowd, some 450 people, seemed relieved.

"I was ready to catch her," one man proudly proclaimed.

Marshall Field’s, which carries the $495 YSL black leather and black velvet sandals and a lower-heeled $395 toffee version, sponsored the event. The department store reported increased interest in the shoe, especially the black velvet style, following the benefit.

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