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prada handbag black Louboutin who's reputedly ousting Blahnik as favoured cobbler to the well heeled offers not only his regular trademark red soled shoes, but lines called Extremely high heels or, for the very brave, Total Madness."He's a big proponent of the six and seven inch heel. He calls them limo shoes because you need one to get anywhere if you wear them," observes Flare magazine editor Lisa Tant, who will feature Louboutin in the magazine's May issue. "He sees it as women empowering themselves."Prada, too, has stepped out of its classic line to include retro '70s chunky cork platforms with a dizzying 512 inch heel. Ditto fiercely heeled offerings from Canadian twins Dean and Dan Caten's DSquared2, not to mention Fendi, Miu Miu and John Galliano's fantastical stilettos for Dior. A quick scan of the shelves at more moderately priced outlets from Nine West to Payless ShoeSource tells the same story. "You see the high platforms in the '30s, the '70s and now, in a time of real economic and political instability," she says. "You have these teetering high shoes worn at times that are teetering. There's a connection between these challenging moments and the most frivolous or literally uplifting forms of footwear."Indeed, while towering heels may not be seen every day, whimsical, sculptural shoes and jewelry have the interest of women hoping to stretch an extra season out of their basic wardrobe, says Tant. And designers plan on enticing us to wear them again this coming fall."It seems that attention has shifted from handbags to shoes," says Tant. "It's something that is democratic in terms of sizes. The focus is on shoes: They're embellished, they're statements, they're conversation pieces, and they're an easy way to update your look."Not that the revisionist take on "everything old and footworthy is fabulously new again" means that reworked platforms and pumps are any less tortuous to wear. Even in $800 to $1,600 six inch Louboutins, says Tant, "you can make yourself look more foolish than fashionable" by wobbling, pained expression intact, down the boulevard.Not that fashion has anything to do with comfort, points out Beker, who "has ultimate respect for Louboutin," wears Dior and