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No longer mere accessory, shoes move center stage

  • In this undated photo provided by the Fashion Institute of Technology shows Christian Louboutin's "Fetish Ballerine" pump. The shoe is on display at the "Shoe Obsession" exhibit at The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology Museum in New York. The exhibition, showing off 153 specimens, runs through April 13. (AP Photo/Fashion Institute of Technology)

    In this undated photo provided by the Fashion Institute of Technology shows Christian Louboutin's "Fetish Ballerine" pump. The shoe is on display at the "Shoe Obsession" exhibit at The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology Museum in New York. The exhibition, showing off 153 specimens, runs through April 13. (AP Photo/Fashion Institute of Technology)

  • In this undated photo provided by the Fashion Institute of Technology shows a pair of silver shoes designed by Chanel with guns as heels. The shoe is on display at the "Shoe Obsession" exhibit at The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology Museum in New York. The exhibition, showing off 153 specimens, runs through April 13. (AP Photo/Fashion Institute of Technology)

    In this undated photo provided by the Fashion Institute of Technology shows a pair of silver shoes designed by Chanel with guns as heels. The shoe is on display at the "Shoe Obsession" exhibit at The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology Museum in New York. The exhibition, showing off 153 specimens, runs through April 13. (AP Photo/Fashion Institute of Technology)

  • This Feb. 11, 2013 photo shows an avant-garde, sequined platform heel designed by Noritaka Tatehana displayed at the "Shoe Obsession" exhibit at The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology Museum in New York. The exhibition, showing off 153 specimens, runs through April 13. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

    This Feb. 11, 2013 photo shows an avant-garde, sequined platform heel designed by Noritaka Tatehana displayed at the "Shoe Obsession" exhibit at The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology Museum in New York. The exhibition, showing off 153 specimens, runs through April 13. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

  • This Feb. 11, 2013 photo shows a Christian Louboutin's shoe with googly-eye decorations, is displayed at the "Shoe Obsession" exhibit at The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology Museum in New York. The exhibition, showing off 153 specimens, runs through April 13. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

    This Feb. 11, 2013 photo shows a Christian Louboutin's shoe with googly-eye decorations, is displayed at the "Shoe Obsession" exhibit at The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology Museum in New York. The exhibition, showing off 153 specimens, runs through April 13. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

  • This Feb. 11, 2013 photo shows Roger Vivier's Eyelash Heel pump displayed at the "Shoe Obsession" exhibit at The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology Museum in New York. The exhibition, showing off 153 specimens, runs through April 13. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

    This Feb. 11, 2013 photo shows Roger Vivier's Eyelash Heel pump displayed at the "Shoe Obsession" exhibit at The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology Museum in New York. The exhibition, showing off 153 specimens, runs through April 13. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

  • This Feb. 11, 2013 photo shows a shoe decorated with a miniature tea set and a lock titled "Alice," and designed by Nicholas Kirkwood, on display at the "Shoe Obsession" exhibit at The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology Museum in New York. The exhibition, showing off 153 specimens, runs through April 13. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

    This Feb. 11, 2013 photo shows a shoe decorated with a miniature tea set and a lock titled "Alice," and designed by Nicholas Kirkwood, on display at the "Shoe Obsession" exhibit at The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology Museum in New York. The exhibition, showing off 153 specimens, runs through April 13. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

  • This Feb. 11, 2013 photo shows a shoe, designed by Masaya Kushino, and made with lacquered Japanese cypress wood, human hair, and lace, displayed at the "Shoe Obsession" exhibit at The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology Museum in New York. The exhibition, showing off 153 specimens, runs through April 13. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

    This Feb. 11, 2013 photo shows a shoe, designed by Masaya Kushino, and made with lacquered Japanese cypress wood, human hair, and lace, displayed at the "Shoe Obsession" exhibit at The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology Museum in New York. The exhibition, showing off 153 specimens, runs through April 13. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

  • This Feb. 11, 2013 photo shows Kei Kagami's oxidized metal and leather footwear on display at the "Shoe Obsession" exhibit at The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology Museum in New York. The exhibition, showing off 153 specimens, runs through April 13. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

    This Feb. 11, 2013 photo shows Kei Kagami's oxidized metal and leather footwear on display at the "Shoe Obsession" exhibit at The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology Museum in New York. The exhibition, showing off 153 specimens, runs through April 13. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

  • This Feb. 11, 2013 photo shows a red and white patent leather flame Prada sandal displayed at the "Shoe Obsession" exhibit at The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology Museum in New York. The exhibition, showing off 153 specimens, runs through April 13. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

    This Feb. 11, 2013 photo shows a red and white patent leather flame Prada sandal displayed at the "Shoe Obsession" exhibit at The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology Museum in New York. The exhibition, showing off 153 specimens, runs through April 13. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

  • This Feb. 11, 2013 photo shows a shoe, made of mirror fragments titled "Invisible", designed by Andreia Chaves, displayed at the "Shoe Obsession" exhibit at The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology Museum in New York. The exhibition, showing off 153 specimens, runs through April 13. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

    This Feb. 11, 2013 photo shows a shoe, made of mirror fragments titled "Invisible", designed by Andreia Chaves, displayed at the "Shoe Obsession" exhibit at The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology Museum in New York. The exhibition, showing off 153 specimens, runs through April 13. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

  • This Feb. 11, 2013 photo shows a colorful mod shoe "Cruise" by Nicholas Kirkwood is displayed at the "Shoe Obsession" exhibit at The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology Museum in New York. The exhibition, showing off 153 specimens, runs through April 13. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

    This Feb. 11, 2013 photo shows a colorful mod shoe "Cruise" by Nicholas Kirkwood is displayed at the "Shoe Obsession" exhibit at The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology Museum in New York. The exhibition, showing off 153 specimens, runs through April 13. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

  • This Feb. 11, 2013 photo shows a shoe designed by Nicholas Kirkwood for the Rodarte spring 2011 fashion show that has the appearance of antique ceramic ware is displayed at the "Shoe Obsession" exhibit at The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology Museum in New York. The exhibition, showing off 153 specimens, runs through April 13. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

    This Feb. 11, 2013 photo shows a shoe designed by Nicholas Kirkwood for the Rodarte spring 2011 fashion show that has the appearance of antique ceramic ware is displayed at the "Shoe Obsession" exhibit at The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology Museum in New York. The exhibition, showing off 153 specimens, runs through April 13. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

  • This Feb. 11, 2013 photo shows Masaya Kushino's "Storm Horse" shoe, which features strands of a horse's mane, is displayed at the "Shoe Obsession" exhibit at The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology Museum in New York. The exhibition, showing off 153 specimens, runs through April 13. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

    This Feb. 11, 2013 photo shows Masaya Kushino's "Storm Horse" shoe, which features strands of a horse's mane, is displayed at the "Shoe Obsession" exhibit at The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology Museum in New York. The exhibition, showing off 153 specimens, runs through April 13. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

  • This Feb. 11, 2013 photo shows a thigh-high boot designed by Nicholas Kirkwood for the Rodarte spring 2009 fashion show at the "Shoe Obsession" exhibit at The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology Museum in New York. The exhibition, showing off 153 specimens, runs through April 13. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

    This Feb. 11, 2013 photo shows a thigh-high boot designed by Nicholas Kirkwood for the Rodarte spring 2009 fashion show at the "Shoe Obsession" exhibit at The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology Museum in New York. The exhibition, showing off 153 specimens, runs through April 13. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

  • In this undated photo provided by the Fashion Institute of Technology, shows a shoe decorated with feathers and designed by Azzedine Alaia. The shoe is on display at the "Shoe Obsession" exhibit at The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology Museum in New York. The exhibition, showing off 153 specimens, runs through April 13. (AP Photo/Fashion Institute of Technology)

    In this undated photo provided by the Fashion Institute of Technology, shows a shoe decorated with feathers and designed by Azzedine Alaia. The shoe is on display at the "Shoe Obsession" exhibit at The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology Museum in New York. The exhibition, showing off 153 specimens, runs through April 13. (AP Photo/Fashion Institute of Technology)

  • This undated photo provided by the Fashion Institute of Technology shows a pair of shoes designed by Tom Ford in 2012. The shoes are displayed at the "Shoe Obsession" exhibit at The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology Museum in New York. The exhibition, showing off 153 specimens, runs through April 13. (AP Photo/Fashion Institute of Technology)

    This undated photo provided by the Fashion Institute of Technology shows a pair of shoes designed by Tom Ford in 2012. The shoes are displayed at the "Shoe Obsession" exhibit at The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology Museum in New York. The exhibition, showing off 153 specimens, runs through April 13. (AP Photo/Fashion Institute of Technology)

  • FILE - This Feb. 11, 2013 file photo shows shoes to be worn by models displayed backstage before the showing of the Thom Browne Fall 2013 collection during Fashion Week in New York. As New York Fashion Week's fall previews wrapped up Thursday, designers didn't ignore the feet.  (AP Photo/Louis Lanzano, file)

    FILE - This Feb. 11, 2013 file photo shows shoes to be worn by models displayed backstage before the showing of the Thom Browne Fall 2013 collection during Fashion Week in New York. As New York Fashion Week's fall previews wrapped up Thursday, designers didn't ignore the feet. (AP Photo/Louis Lanzano, file)

  • This Feb. 11, 2013 photo shows a pair of shoes designed by Noritake Tatehana for Lady Gaga displayed at the "Shoe Obsession" exhibit at The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology Museum in New York. The exhibition, showing off 153 specimens, runs through April 13. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

    This Feb. 11, 2013 photo shows a pair of shoes designed by Noritake Tatehana for Lady Gaga displayed at the "Shoe Obsession" exhibit at The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology Museum in New York. The exhibition, showing off 153 specimens, runs through April 13. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

  • FILE - This Feb. 10, 2013 file photo shows a model wearing clear boots as she walks the runway during the Ralph Rucci Fall 2013 fashion show during Fashion Week in New York. As New York Fashion Week's fall previews wrapped up Thursday, designers didn't ignore the feet.  (AP Photo/Karly Domb Sadof, file)

    FILE - This Feb. 10, 2013 file photo shows a model wearing clear boots as she walks the runway during the Ralph Rucci Fall 2013 fashion show during Fashion Week in New York. As New York Fashion Week's fall previews wrapped up Thursday, designers didn't ignore the feet. (AP Photo/Karly Domb Sadof, file)

  • FILE - This Feb. 13, 2013 photo shows a model sporting fur boots during the Jeremy Scott Fall 2013 show during Fashion Week in New York. As New York Fashion Week's fall previews wrapped up Thursday, designers didn't ignore the feet. Playful bad boy Jeremy Scott, with his bright yellow furry Chewbacca look, was greeted by well-wishers carrying his bags or wearing the inventive sneakers he's designed for Adidas. (AP Photo/John Minchillo, file)

    FILE - This Feb. 13, 2013 photo shows a model sporting fur boots during the Jeremy Scott Fall 2013 show during Fashion Week in New York. As New York Fashion Week's fall previews wrapped up Thursday, designers didn't ignore the feet. Playful bad boy Jeremy Scott, with his bright yellow furry Chewbacca look, was greeted by well-wishers carrying his bags or wearing the inventive sneakers he's designed for Adidas. (AP Photo/John Minchillo, file)

  • FILE - This Feb. 13, 2013 photo shows a model wearing decorated shoes with matching stockings during The Anna Sui Fall 2013 collection at Fashion Week in New York. As New York Fashion Week's fall previews wrapped up Thursday, designers didn't ignore the feet.  (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow, file)

    FILE - This Feb. 13, 2013 photo shows a model wearing decorated shoes with matching stockings during The Anna Sui Fall 2013 collection at Fashion Week in New York. As New York Fashion Week's fall previews wrapped up Thursday, designers didn't ignore the feet. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow, file)

  • FILE - This Feb. 8, 2013 file photo shows a model wearing high boots during the Rebecca Minkoff Fall 2013 fashion show during Fashion Week in New York. As New York Fashion Week's fall previews wrapped up Thursday, designers didn't ignore the feet. (AP Photo/Karly Domb Sadof, file)

    FILE - This Feb. 8, 2013 file photo shows a model wearing high boots during the Rebecca Minkoff Fall 2013 fashion show during Fashion Week in New York. As New York Fashion Week's fall previews wrapped up Thursday, designers didn't ignore the feet. (AP Photo/Karly Domb Sadof, file)

  • This Feb. 11, 2013 photo shows Janina Alleyne's "Exoskeleton" shoe on display at the "Shoe Obsession" exhibit at The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology Museum in New York. The exhibition, showing off 153 specimens, runs through April 13. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

    This Feb. 11, 2013 photo shows Janina Alleyne's "Exoskeleton" shoe on display at the "Shoe Obsession" exhibit at The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology Museum in New York. The exhibition, showing off 153 specimens, runs through April 13. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

  • In this undated photo provided by the Fashion Institute of Technology shows Christian Louboutin's "Fetish Ballerine" pump. The shoe is on display at the "Shoe Obsession" exhibit at The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology Museum in New York. The exhibition, showing off 153 specimens, runs through April 13. (AP Photo/Fashion Institute of Technology)
  • In this undated photo provided by the Fashion Institute of Technology shows a pair of silver shoes designed by Chanel with guns as heels. The shoe is on display at the "Shoe Obsession" exhibit at The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology Museum in New York. The exhibition, showing off 153 specimens, runs through April 13. (AP Photo/Fashion Institute of Technology)
  • This Feb. 11, 2013 photo shows an avant-garde, sequined platform heel designed by Noritaka Tatehana displayed at the "Shoe Obsession" exhibit at The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology Museum in New York. The exhibition, showing off 153 specimens, runs through April 13. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
  • This Feb. 11, 2013 photo shows a Christian Louboutin's shoe with googly-eye decorations, is displayed at the "Shoe Obsession" exhibit at The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology Museum in New York. The exhibition, showing off 153 specimens, runs through April 13. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
  • This Feb. 11, 2013 photo shows Roger Vivier's Eyelash Heel pump displayed at the "Shoe Obsession" exhibit at The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology Museum in New York. The exhibition, showing off 153 specimens, runs through April 13. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
  • This Feb. 11, 2013 photo shows a shoe decorated with a miniature tea set and a lock titled "Alice," and designed by Nicholas Kirkwood, on display at the "Shoe Obsession" exhibit at The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology Museum in New York. The exhibition, showing off 153 specimens, runs through April 13. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
  • This Feb. 11, 2013 photo shows a shoe, designed by Masaya Kushino, and made with lacquered Japanese cypress wood, human hair, and lace, displayed at the "Shoe Obsession" exhibit at The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology Museum in New York. The exhibition, showing off 153 specimens, runs through April 13. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
  • This Feb. 11, 2013 photo shows Kei Kagami's oxidized metal and leather footwear on display at the "Shoe Obsession" exhibit at The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology Museum in New York. The exhibition, showing off 153 specimens, runs through April 13. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
  • This Feb. 11, 2013 photo shows a red and white patent leather flame Prada sandal displayed at the "Shoe Obsession" exhibit at The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology Museum in New York. The exhibition, showing off 153 specimens, runs through April 13. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
  • This Feb. 11, 2013 photo shows a shoe, made of mirror fragments titled "Invisible", designed by Andreia Chaves, displayed at the "Shoe Obsession" exhibit at The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology Museum in New York. The exhibition, showing off 153 specimens, runs through April 13. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
  • This Feb. 11, 2013 photo shows a colorful mod shoe "Cruise" by Nicholas Kirkwood is displayed at the "Shoe Obsession" exhibit at The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology Museum in New York. The exhibition, showing off 153 specimens, runs through April 13. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
  • This Feb. 11, 2013 photo shows a shoe designed by Nicholas Kirkwood for the Rodarte spring 2011 fashion show that has the appearance of antique ceramic ware is displayed at the "Shoe Obsession" exhibit at The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology Museum in New York. The exhibition, showing off 153 specimens, runs through April 13. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
  • This Feb. 11, 2013 photo shows Masaya Kushino's "Storm Horse" shoe, which features strands of a horse's mane, is displayed at the "Shoe Obsession" exhibit at The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology Museum in New York. The exhibition, showing off 153 specimens, runs through April 13. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
  • This Feb. 11, 2013 photo shows a thigh-high boot designed by Nicholas Kirkwood for the Rodarte spring 2009 fashion show at the "Shoe Obsession" exhibit at The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology Museum in New York. The exhibition, showing off 153 specimens, runs through April 13. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
  • In this undated photo provided by the Fashion Institute of Technology, shows a shoe decorated with feathers and designed by Azzedine Alaia. The shoe is on display at the "Shoe Obsession" exhibit at The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology Museum in New York. The exhibition, showing off 153 specimens, runs through April 13. (AP Photo/Fashion Institute of Technology)
  • This undated photo provided by the Fashion Institute of Technology shows a pair of shoes designed by Tom Ford in 2012. The shoes are displayed at the "Shoe Obsession" exhibit at The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology Museum in New York. The exhibition, showing off 153 specimens, runs through April 13. (AP Photo/Fashion Institute of Technology)
  • FILE - This Feb. 11, 2013 file photo shows shoes to be worn by models displayed backstage before the showing of the Thom Browne Fall 2013 collection during Fashion Week in New York. As New York Fashion Week's fall previews wrapped up Thursday, designers didn't ignore the feet.  (AP Photo/Louis Lanzano, file)
  • This Feb. 11, 2013 photo shows a pair of shoes designed by Noritake Tatehana for Lady Gaga displayed at the "Shoe Obsession" exhibit at The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology Museum in New York. The exhibition, showing off 153 specimens, runs through April 13. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
  • FILE - This Feb. 10, 2013 file photo shows a model wearing clear boots as she walks the runway during the Ralph Rucci Fall 2013 fashion show during Fashion Week in New York. As New York Fashion Week's fall previews wrapped up Thursday, designers didn't ignore the feet.  (AP Photo/Karly Domb Sadof, file)
  • FILE - This Feb. 13, 2013 photo shows a model sporting fur boots during the Jeremy Scott Fall 2013 show during Fashion Week in New York. As New York Fashion Week's fall previews wrapped up Thursday, designers didn't ignore the feet. Playful bad boy Jeremy Scott, with his bright yellow furry Chewbacca look, was greeted by well-wishers carrying his bags or wearing the inventive sneakers he's designed for Adidas. (AP Photo/John Minchillo, file)
  • FILE - This Feb. 13, 2013 photo shows a model wearing decorated shoes with matching stockings during The Anna Sui Fall 2013 collection at Fashion Week in New York. As New York Fashion Week's fall previews wrapped up Thursday, designers didn't ignore the feet.  (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow, file)
  • FILE - This Feb. 8, 2013 file photo shows a model wearing high boots during the Rebecca Minkoff Fall 2013 fashion show during Fashion Week in New York. As New York Fashion Week's fall previews wrapped up Thursday, designers didn't ignore the feet. (AP Photo/Karly Domb Sadof, file)
  • This Feb. 11, 2013 photo shows Janina Alleyne's "Exoskeleton" shoe on display at the "Shoe Obsession" exhibit at The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology Museum in New York. The exhibition, showing off 153 specimens, runs through April 13. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Shoes are having a 21st century moment as they’ve pushed from mere accessory to the center of the fashion stage.

Sexuality, social status, fashion IQ – The reasons for our shoe obsession are many, but one thing’s for sure: more, and more avant-garde, designers are taking on the feet.

“There has been a big emphasis on high designer shoes in the past 10 to 12 years, so more women are certainly willing to spend more money on high-end shoes, but there’s also been a real focus on shoes as art pieces,” said Colleen Hill, assistant curator of accessories for The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology.

The museum went directly to the source – a Who’s Who of shoe designers and some high-profile collectors – for “Shoe Obsession,” an exhibit that runs through April 13.

Outlandish beer heiress Daphne Guinness lent some of her favorites. So did jewelry designer Lynn Ban, who owns roughly 800 pairs and says, “I’ve worn them all, at least once.”

The exhibition shows off 153 specimens, mostly from this century, including Ban’s silver-platform Chanels with handguns for heels (They came with a warning against packing them in carry-on luggage when flying). From the eerie, bone-white Exoskeleton made of resin and produced through 3-D digital printing by Janina Alleyne to the disco-ballish silver sparklers without a heel by Giuseppe Zanotti (also Ban’s); nary a style is left unrepresented by FIT.

Hill and Valerie Steele, director and chief curator of the museum, have co-written a book, Shoe Obsession, to accompany the exhibit. During a recent walk-through, the two spoke of designer shoes as the new millennium’s “It” bag, which has not gone unnoticed by major department stores.

The flagship Macy’s in Manhattan expanded floor space for shoes by 10 percent, boasting 250,000 pairs. Saks Fifth Avenue enlarged shoe departments in about a dozen stores around the country, with the Manhattan store’s department 40 percent larger, spanning the entire eighth floor and hosting the first Louis Vuitton shoe shop within a department store.

Shoes by established designers and design houses – Manolo Blahnik, Salvatore Ferragamo, Roger Vivier, Chanel, Prada, Christian Louboutin – remain popular – obvi! – but quirky stars have arisen as quickly as heels have gone so high that 4 inches is the new “low,” the two curators said.

The new design generation? Modernists Kei Kagami, with art pieces that take on an almost orthopedic terror, and Noritaka Tatehana, working in stamped leather, spikes and tall toe platforms absent a heel, stand out in a strong contingent from Japan.

Brazilian shoe designer Alexandre Birman lent the exhibit three pairs done in painted reptile skin.

“Shoes have a psychological, sociocultural and seductive significance to our culture, from the Hollywood celebrity to the everyday woman, which goes beyond a materialistic obsession,” he said.

The centuries have spawned many beautiful shoes, but the masses joining in a more recent phenomenon known as the “Sex and the City” effect continues to ripple in fashion.

Shoes are so popular, in fact, that Hill cited recent data noting the average American woman owns nearly twice as many shoes as she did a decade ago – about 17 pairs.

“What we’re seeing in a way is a kind of democratization of the kind of phenomenon that we saw in Sex and the City,” Steele said. “At first it was just sort of some people who were really obsessed with high-end designer shoes. This has now spread.”

Shoes, she said, have moved from accessories to fashion’s main story “to being the main story, in part because designer clothes have gotten so expensive. So even if you’re spending $900, $1,000 on a pair of shoes, something insane, that’s less than you’d be spending by far than if you were getting a dress or something, and people seem to feel that it’s more worth it.”

Height, Steele said, “has reached this great moment,” when compared to a decade ago. “We’ve gone about as high as most people can walk in shoes, unless you’re Lady Gaga. That’s about six inches, but some people can do higher.”

Ban is one of them.

“I can go maybe 10 inches, but that’s, like, standing at a cocktail party not moving. Anything for fashion,” she laughed.

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