Had enough of “it” bags?

Behold the statement shoe.

After seasons of the cultish trend of handbags fetching prices rivalling those of cars and women accumulating entire wardrobes of must-have purses, shoes are stepping into the limelight as the new coveted accessory.

But not just any ordinary pump will do. Footwear design has taken on bold architectural shapes with surreal, fantastical and sometimes downright bizarre heels.

“No one wants a basic black pump any more,” says Barbara Atkin, vice-president of fashion direction at Holt Renfrew. “People are gravitating to heel art.”

And some of the most spectacular heels that came down the runways for spring look exactly like that — an object of art.

Miuccia Prada sent out a sensuous velvet shoe with an art nouveau-influenced floral stalk as a heel, the perfect accompaniment to the erotic pixies featured in the prints on her clothing.

Architectural marvels were noticeable at Marni, where platforms had the sharp edges of a skyscraper, and at Jil Sander the nail-thin heel was held in place by a criss-cross of lattice resembling scaffolding.

Fendi’s heel was a metal cage that encased what appeared to be a glass column.

But the pump reached the height of perversity at Marc Jacobs. He went the surrealist route and showed a high-heel shoe with the heel missing, leaving the shoe seemingly suspended in mid-air, with the heel protruding horizontally from the toes.

“Surrealism is about looking at something in a new and different way,” says Atkin. “And fashion is about fantasy. It’s taking everyday things and twisting it up and bring it back in a new way. It’s all about escape.”

When it comes to the complex relationship between a woman and her shoes, part of that escapist fantasy probably started in childhood.

“It’s a Cinderella complex. Subconsciously, as little girls reading fairy tales, the symbolism is there,” Atkin says. “We are fascinated by that glass slipper left behind. It can only fit one person and it’s fit for a queen.”

Debra Anissimoff questions whether this fantastical footwear can make it in the marathon of modern life.

“Our lifestyle has changed so much, our pace of life is much faster,” says the owner of the luxury shoe boutique Zola. “Years ago, going out to dinner meant you went home to change. Now no one is going home to change outfits before dinner.”

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