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In recent seasons, high heels have been growing at a staggering rate, with celebrities seemingly daring each other to go higher and higher. Towards the end of 2006, Christian Louboutin and his trademark red soles were regularly name-checked not just in Vogue, but in the tabloid press too. Heel heights became a story in their own right. From Nigella Lawson in her 6in fetish shoes back in 2004, to exacting descriptions of the towering heels Victoria Beckham wore to the Cruise/Holmes "Welcome to LA" party last year, stories are now regularly and spuriously spun around shoes and heel heights. The result being that any two-bit celebrity who wants to be papped now knows that she need only strap on some platform spikes with nosebleed potential and coverage is pretty much guaranteed.
But there are signs that a quiet backlash is beginning. Celebrities who don't want to be associated with a limo lifestyle have turned their back on heels. Indie poster girl Alexa Chung favours Chanel two-tone pumps, and has been seen recently sporting Russell & Bromley schoolgirl loafers. It is a shoe that demands a gamine leg and a well-turned ankle, and as Chung no doubt knows, it is far harder to pull off than no-brainer 7in heels.
Russell & Bromley are quietly chuffed with the success of their Chester loafer, as it is known. "We've had that style for 25 years and it used to be a bit of a mum's shoe, but recently it has become one of our best sellers, and younger customers are buying it," explains a spokeswoman.
Meanwhile, Lily Allen has freshened up her look with blonde hair and flat pumps, and although Carla-mania was draining, Mme Sarkozy did reawaken our consciousness to the sartorial excellence of flat pumps.
On the high street, which is gearing up for the annual battle of the surprising summer must-have, several flat shoe styles are already in the running. Moccasin shoes are in contention again; this time not boots but slip-ons that are not too dissimilar to Chung's loafers. Gap has already scored a hit with its selection of gladiator sandals designed by French shoe genius Pierre Hardy. Yes, we've seen the shape before, but it is the first time that a designer/high street collaboration has fixated on a simultaneously affordable and flat shoe.
So what of the future for high heels? On the catwalks for next autumn, heels still prevailed, but there were subtle signs that the mood is changing. Alexander McQueen, once a devotee of the super-sized killer stiletto, chose to style the entire second half of his autumn collection with heavily jewelled and perfectly flat slippers. They looked beautiful and if the high street takes his lead, there may well be even more options for those wishing to swerve the heel wars come autumn.
But in the meantime, let's sit back in our new flatties and watch Eva Longoria and the Beso crew, Sarah Harding, Alex Curran et al totter their 7in super-sized heels right over the tipping point into style