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A revolution in women's shoes has women doffing heels for flats and wearing them places flats were once rarely seen. WSJ's Christina Binkley and Tanya Rivero discuss. Photo: Marc Jacobs
  Mr. Kirkwood’s towering platform heels cheap louboutin wedges made him a fast-rising star with his own stores in London, New York, and Las Vegas and a controlling-stake investment from LVMH. But he says he is now fending off demands from luxury retailers that he launch spongy-soled running shoes—the antithesis of any design he has ever done. He says he is resisting the pressure for fear that sneakers would overtake the shoes he is known for.

  While all this may be true, heels also imply pain. In a sense, it's kind of amazing that an item that exemplifies the fashion-over-function ethos so fully has lasted for so long. Indeed, research cheap red bottom shoes suggests that long-term high heel use can both "compromise muscle efficiency" and "increase the risk of strain injuries." A recent survey conducted by the U.K.'s College of Podiatry found that, when in stilettos, most women's feet tend to start hurting after just one hour and six minutes. Furthermore, one in three women admit to walking home shoeless due to the relentless throbbing.
  Interestingly, it used to be men who wore the heels. For centuries, horseback riders in the East used them to provide balance when standing up in the stirrups (just like today's cowboy boots). The style eventually moved to Western Europe, where aristocrats embraced the footwear ?not for its practicality, but to set themselves apart from the lower-class workers. A painting from 1701, for example, shows Louis XIV of France posing rather regally in a pair of red-heeled shoes. According to W magazine, when louboutin replica shoes Napoleon Bonaparte crowned himself emperor in 1804, he decided to wear flats. The result: "The tiny general's gesture marked the end of an era, not only of monarchist rule in France but also of high-heel male power-dressing throughout the Western world."

Liebow, too, has a “short list of things you can do to minimize the problems?if you insist on wearing high heels. The list includes buying only shoes with good padding at the balls of the foot and a gradual slope (rather than the 90-degree angle shown in his X-ray), so “the force is more evenly distributed?over the foot.
  As for how high you can safely go with heels, Liebow says, “there’s no height that’s good.?But “most women can handle a heel of an inch or two with minimal side effects.?br>   At roughly the same time, an Yves Saint Laurent replica louboutin wedges exhibition in Paris was stoking the desires of many designers to re-explore Le Smoking, Mr. Saint Laurent ’s gender-bending poke at women’s evening wear. This led to more masculine looks for women, such as tuxedos, pressed white shirts, creased trousers. Along came shoes to match—wing tips, oxfords, brogues. Prada did thick-soled “brothel creepers”—a masculine shoe with thick crepe soles—for women.
  Then, this year, came “norm core,?more a mood than replica louboutin heels a style, marked by a sudden fascination with the sort of clothing non-fashionistas consider normal: chino pants, denim jackets, and the Nike Air Max. Such clothing is anything but normal to the fashion-obsessed. Hence it is rebellious and exciting. To eyes adjusted to the studded Birkenstock and the alligator tassel-toe Oxford, it wasn’t a particularly far leap to the $695 Balenciaga metallic running shoe.
  These days, Christian Louboutin, so recently king of the towering heel, is rolling out high-top sneakers embellished with python or calf hair. Pierre Hardy has trimmed his sneakers in fur. Fausto Puglisi, a rising Italian fashion star, put bejeweled Adidas slides on his Spring runway. Prada put the wingtip in the design blender with athletic shoes and came up with the ultimate ugly-chic crossover: the “wingtip brogue christian louboutin red bottoms replica platform sneaker.?/p>