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High heels height of impractical fashion
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They are the very height of fashion - with their 15-centimetre heels - but whether it is possible to actually walk in the latest towering shoe creation is another matter.

Jennifer Lopez, Christina Aguilera and Victoria Beckham in heels

Celebrities such as Victoria Beckham and Christina Aguilera make wearing vertiginous designs seem effortless, so regularly are they snapped in them - not just on the red carpet, but during shopping trips or on their way to dinner.

Their torture devices of choice are designer pieces like the season's cult shoe, the Yves Saint Laurent "Tribute".

And if the recent fashion weeks in Paris and New York are a guide, the heels, which experts warn could damage feet and legs, are in for at least another year.

The look has already trickled down from high-end boutiques to chain stores, making them an affordable and popular buy.

A sales assistant at one shop said it had almost sold out its three styles of 15-centimetre heels.

The Sun-Herald bought and road-tested a pair similar to the Tribute. Everyday things such as getting onto an escalator, catching a bus, walking along a cobblestone path and going to a bar were tried with only limited success.

Yves Saint Laurent "Tribute" shoes

The vice-president of the Australia Podiatry Association, Brendan Brown, said he anticipated a growth in business at his St. Marys and Penrith practices in the next few months, when the full damage from this trend is expected to kick in.

"They're ridiculously high," Mr. Brown said. "I would say don't wear them at all. They really are very, very dangerous.

"You've got to consider that you're going to do long-term damage to your lower back and your feet. Calluses and corns and bunions are just fait accompli."

There was also a risk of ankle sprains, fractures and shortened leg muscles, leading to Achilles tendonitis, he said.

The editor of Madison, Paula Joye, said women were prepared to put fashion before pain. "You see women walking blocks in 15-inch [38-centimetre] heels and that's a bit scary. They can't go higher - they'd be called a ladder. The good news is fashion is cyclical so you can guarantee we'll be wearing flats again in no time."

(China Daily/Agencies October 16, 2007)

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