Boom or bust, women’s shoes have a knack for staying well-heeled, even in the most recessionary of times.

This spring is no exception and for anyone wondering where all the wealth has gone, look no further than a shoe-lover’s feet.

“Women love shoes and it’s that one item that’s an attainable luxury,” says Canadian designer David Dixon. “What’s that saying? ‘When the going gets tough, they go shoe shopping?’”

Thankfully, designers aren’t subscribing to the recessionary mood and this spring, they’re trotting out shoes in luxe, lustrous and bejeweled. In Dixon’s own line, there’s no shortage of rhinestone-studded straps, rich hues and earth tones paired with brushed metallics.

“There is a fantasy to it, and I think it is a part of the escapism,” he says.

While metallics are still popular, one of the biggest materials for 2009 is of the serpentine variety and city dwellers better get used to seeing snake on the pavement.

“Natural snake, black and white snake, metallic snakes… it’s a very rich-looking shoe,” explains Julia Brownstein, senior buyer for Browns. “When you do a metallic snake, right away it looks very rich and expensive and it’s something you can wear day and night.”

With April showers also come lace and flowers, and feet are getting romanced with satin, bows and lacy adornments. As for colours, cobalt and navys are cropping up alongside purples, greens and oranges, as is the classic nude shoe.

“With the economy and the way things are going right now, the type of purchase that will be strong this summer is something neutral that would go with a lot of things,” says Brownstein.

But perhaps the biggest shoe of spring is last year’s winner, the gladiator, both in sandal and stiletto. Having fought its way into a second round on the runways, the Greco-Roman shoe has re-emerged a bit more refined.

“It really started last year with the basic up-the-leg traditional gladiator, but now a lot of designers are doing it on a platform,” says Richard Markowitz, buyer for Davids. “Through the gladiator shoe, you’re also getting a more strappy look and the birdcage look.”

Heels have undergone some interesting treatments this spring, like tapered points or creative detailing, but heights are nowhere as lofty as last year.

“That has to do in part with the economy,” Markowitz says. “People want something a little more fashionable, something they can wear a couple of times and not just once.”