- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 25, 2008

MILAN, ITALY (AP) - Shoes are contemporary jewelry, designer Donatella Versace once said, and in recent years they have become an integral part of a designer’s fashion statement.

Armani one season ennobled the running shoe by pairing it with chiffon evening wear. In the 1990s the stiletto became a symbol for racy chic. More recently, prewar platforms and wedges thought to have been relegated to the back of grandma’s closet became super hot again, especially with teenagers.

The heels have become taller with each season, and the inches are apparently taking their toll. Models at this week’s preview shows in Milan tripped, slipped and _ in the case of one model wearing ankle-strapped high-heels at Prada _ toppled over.

On the fourth day of Milan Fashion Week, there were shoe troubles for both Pucci and Dolce & Gabbana. The sensible footwear from Fendi, however, kept those models firm on the ground.

PUCCI

The Pucci silk prints were breathtaking, tending for daytime to be in monochrome or featuring abstract palm leaf prints. For evening, Pucci created prints out of a myriad of stitched-together crystal beads on a gold background.

Gold also made up the high-heel of Pucci’s summer bootie. But apparently extra height makes the shoe as treacherous as it is gorgeous. Despite being trained to be steady on her feet, the same model stumbled three times, somehow managing not to fall.

DOLCE & GABBANA

They might have chosen slippers to go with their pajama party, but the Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana duo accessorized their luxurious silk outfits with sparkling and soaring platform sandals. The super-high platforms were also used for their dreamy ball gowns in tulle and embroidered roses. Dolce defended the towering look, saying that every girl has the right to dream.

But if several of the trained models stumbled on the slippery runway during the show, how can one expect a debutante to negotiate the ballroom floor?

FENDI

The Fendi show featured models wearing wild pinned-up hairstyles and futuristic lace dresses cinched at the waist by a cummerbund. The look may have been offbeat, but the overall effect was still the elegant and easygoing look preferred by Italian designers for the summer 2009.

The footwear at Fendi was strangely calm, though, especially for the house that made metal ankle straps a fashion fetish. The high heels were never towering, and favored was an open-toed saddle shoe fitted with a comfortable wedge.

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