The High Spark of Low-Heeled Shoes

The High Spark of Low-Heeled Shoes


From left: Dries Van Noten suede mules with a ball heel, $640 at Bergdorf Goodman. Jenni Kayne leather pencil skirt, $650 at Louis Vuitton pumps with bow detail, $830 at Louis Vuitton. Kenzo clouded leopard-print cotton dress, $915 at Opening Ceremony. Zara metallic sandals with ankle strap, $79.90 at J. Crew raw silk-linen capris with a single stripe, $248 to pre-order (item no. 81470) at Nicholas Kirkwood color-block  patent leather pumps, $635 at Nicholas Kirkwood. Stella  McCartney floral jacquard skirt, $995 at Stella McCartney and Carven suede bow shoes, $590 at Elizabeth Charles and Tibi washed-denim pants, $250 at Tibi SoHo and Miu Miu patent leather shoes with Swarovski crystal heels, $895 at Miu Miu and Tibi faux leather pleat skirt, $285 at Tibi SoHo.

If the men’s department is ruled by revenge of the nerds (horn rims, bow ties), women’s fashion can look surprisingly like (dare we say?) the triumph of frump. Dowager classics like frame handbags, cardies and costume jewelry are the height of chic — and now comes the low block heel.

Yet when models stepped out on spring runways at Marc Jacobs and Louis Vuitton, their low heels looked unexpectedly right — and miraculously wearable. At Marc Jacobs, the pumps and sling-backs had round block heels and a pointy toe; at Louis Vuitton, they had short slim-line heels and an even pointier toe. Other houses got in on the act, including Miu Miu, with chunky crystal heels, and Dries Van Noten, who showed a gilded ball heel. But the breakout hit of the season is Nicholas Kirkwood’s triangular stepped-heel pump. (Shown here in blush patent leather, it also comes in a bright water snake and a zigzig pattern that made it into all the fashion books.)

In designing his lovely new heel, Mr. Kirkwood said that he tried to do something that would be a real fashion item, not just a lower version of a high heel. “It’s a way to get that height that women want without being so mumsy,” he said.

Think about it: enough height to give your bottom a little lift, and your legs a longer line, but low enough that you can pound the pavement pain-free.