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Health, Beauty & Fashion

Get to the point

Designer Narciso Rodriguez showcased pointed-toe heels at his New York Fashion Week show last month, as he finds that the style is the most flattering on a woman’s foot.
The Straits Times - April 1, 2013
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Get to the point

If you are looking to take a fashionable step into spring, let your shoes lead the way. Sleek, sophisticated and ladylike, the pointed-toe shoe is coming back strong, pushing several seasons' worth of chunky platforms towards the back of the closet.

The narrowed point, part of the retro-feminine trend drawing on the 1960s, has trickled down from the designer world to the mainstream market, said

Mr Gregg Andrews, fashion creative director at Nordstrom, and will be a silhouette to wear to look well-dressed and on trend for spring.

"It looks so fresh," he said. "It feels right with everything that's going on in fashion." The classic, versatile style, last a must-have in the Sex And The City era, is enjoying an updated return to the spotlight in a burst of colours and with decorations such as pretty bows and tougher-looking studs.

"When you think of the pointed-toe shoe, you think of Audrey Hepburn and Jacqueline Kennedy," Mr Andrews said. "You think of those very famous fashion icons from the 1960s, but then you tweak it and you make it very 21st century."

Decades ago, women stepped out in black or white patent leather, he said. "Now we're seeing it in myriad colours - everything from nude all the way to bright highlighter colours and, of course, black is still there," he said.

If you are a newcomer to the silhouette, stylist and shoe fanatic Stacy London believes there is no better place to start than the classic pointed-toe stiletto.

"It's the basic shoe for any woman's wardrobe," said Ms London, who says line-lengthening pointed-toe heels make up at least one-quarter of her shoe collection, now approaching 500 pairs.

"There's nothing it can't go with and it does add a little bit of height and class to any outfit," she said. "It makes you look taller, longer, leaner and more graceful."

At designer Narciso Rodriguez's New York Fashion Week show last month, pointed-toe heels, including ankle-strap and bootie versions, walked the runway. To him, the style is sexy, sensual and no-nonsense. Of all of the shoe silhouettes he has designed, the pointed toe is the most flattering on a woman's foot, he said.

"It's great when you want to look sleek and pulled together," he added. "There is something about it that naturally looks correct."

The shoes that he has turned out for the last several seasons also have single soles, which are more delicate than the thicker ones popular with platforms. He was inspired not by Jackie O, but by looks worn by 1990s style stars Carolyn Bessette Kennedy, for whom he crafted her wedding look, and Kate Moss.

"Now, it's really become more the thing that you will see on everyone's runways," he said. "It's great to see it again. It looks so smart."

One of the best attributes of the shoe, which can also be fashioned with a kitten, mid-height or flat heel, is that you can wear it with just about anything. Mrs Michelle Obama worked several medium-heel pointed-toe pumps and a pair of sharp-point boots into her inaugural wardrobe this year.

Ms London favours higher stilettoes paired with cropped pants or midi skirt and said the shoes also work well with a pantsuit, a full or pencil skirt, a sheath dress and even the boyfriend jean. For a trendy outfit, dress up a look of skinny jeans, T-shirt and lightweight leather jacket with a pair of pointed-toe stilettoes, Mr Andrews suggested.

"The whole idea of juxtaposing the feminine with the more tough is a huge trend," he said.

He suggested that a casual look could combine a pair of feminine shorts with pointed-toe flats, while mid-height heels would work for the office and embellished stilettoes could be worn with a cocktail dress. "It's a great shoe because its silhouette is so clean and neutral, you can really do a lot with it," he said.

Mr Rodriguez sees the versatility as well.

"I like it with pants and I think it can look quite chic if you're wearing something that's quite relaxed," he said. "You can wear it with something that's quite body-con. It works in pretty much any situation."

Just as the shoes can befit both First Ladies and fashionistas (or First Lady fashionistas), they can also be naughty or nice.

"I don't think that it's just a proper-girl look," Mr Rodriguez said. "It can be an extremely sexy look depending on the shoe." Subtle bondage references are found in shoes topped with ankle straps,

Ms London said. "If you want powerful and a little bit more dom than fem, go for a shackle," she said.

While "anyone and everyone" can slip into the style, said Ms London, there still are things to consider: A skinny heel, for example, can make heavy calves or ankles look heavier, so women might want to consider a wedge or stacked heel instead. Also, an elongated toe box can look "a little witchy" on shorter women, she said, urging wearers to "keep the point in proportion with your height".

And do not fall for the misconception that a pointed-toe shoe will be uncomfortable. According to Mr Andrews, the width of a shoe at the foot's widest part remains the same as in shoes without the narrowed toe.

The pointed-toe shoe will make everything in your closet look new again, he said, and perhaps even give your psyche a boost.

"A pointed-toe shoe is unquestionably a sign of good taste," he said, "And that makes a woman feel empowered."

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