WHY were high heels invented? The answer is of course ‘to make it harder for women to run away from a bad date’. Or if you’re at Cannes, heels were invented to be showcased on the red carpet - without them, you're not gettin' in.
Just last year, Club LIV refused entry to a woman in flats, as she didn’t meet their 'entry policy'.
While celebrities are still out in full force and in full couture for the opulent film festival, over on our shores its widely documented ‘no heels, no entry’ rule has caused a full-on feminist furore. On the French Riveria it doesn’t matter whether you’re the wife of a film director attending his film showing or you’re in your 50s attending Cate Blanchett’s Carol: no ‘tall’ shoes, no bueno. Even rhinestone pumps just weren’t fancy enough for one woman forced to don heels. Another was told that whilst her shoes were ‘beautiful’, they suffered from a ‘lack of sass’. Stopped four times for not having sassy enough shoes? Ridiculous, quite frankly.
It was supposed to be the year of ‘la femme’ at Cannes. The festival opened with a film directed by a woman, Emmanuelle Bercot, for the first time since 1987. But what is everyone talking about now? Shoes.
Yes, heels look pretty and might make your ass look that bit bigger and if women are wearing them because they want to, that’s great. If they’re wearing 6” Louboutins to conform to some kind of ill-conceived heel mandate, that sticks two fingers up to the idea of female empowerment in the film industry. Why are we so wedded to the idea of a woman awkwardly tottering down the red-carpet, even if her feet are silently screaming with every pigeon-step? They’re called killer heels for a reason: they kill your feet.
Or is it a case of 'you can’t live the high life if you don’t wear high heels’? High heels have historically symbolised femininity, status, power, and sex. Heels are statement for a reason: they say a lot about the woman wearing them. I wear heels because they make my deceptively long legs appear even longer, and I feel like I’m in a Beyoncé video strutting down Deansgate. Two of my sisters don’t wear heels because they’re already ‘trees’ (they assigned themselves this label), and don’t want to be taller than men. Some of my friends don’t wear heels because they love their Nikes too much, and others because they don’t want to be shoe-boxed into what ‘femininity’ is by wearing three inch court shoes. But even when women are preparing for job interviews, or working for certain ‘traditional’ companies, they’re told heels are uniform, and not optional. Unless you’re a man: suit shoes will suffice. Some women feel like without heels, they don’t fit the corporate image. There is still an expectation that a woman will own a pair of heels, and will recognise the occasions in life when it is appropriate to dust them off.
Cannes isn’t the only place to flex its ‘no heels, no entry’ muscle. Maybe you’ve been to Deansgate 'celeb-haunt' Panacea, and been given the once over, and because you’re wearing Converse after a hard day at the office, they’ve turned you away, saying either you need a table reservation or they’re ‘at capacity’ - yeah, and I’m the Easter bunny. Just last year, Club LIV refused entry to a woman in flats, saying she didn’t meet their entry policy. The fact that she even had to explain she didn’t want to wear heels because she was pregnant is, again, ridiculous. Just in the same way that women at Cannes shouldn’t have to say they have a metal plate in their foot which is why they favour flats. You can look formal in flats. You can look scruffy wearing heels. So why should it matter? Surely, if you look appropriately dressed for the red-carpet, nobody’s going to spend the night staring south of your knees? Unless you have a foot fetish (I’m not judging).
I reckon a modern-day Cinderella would choose those coveted flat studded Valentino pumps over glass slippers. Comfort and class, minus the glass. Emily Blunt had it absolutely right when she said ‘everybody should wear flats’, and that it’s ‘disappointing’ that women are even being questioned for valuing their feet over fashion. Women are about more than just their shoes: ‘they are just as fascinating and interesting to watch, and just as bankable as men’. That’s whether they’re flat-footed, or towering above them in the latest Giuseppe Zanottis. Why does it matter? In 2015, we should be past imposing dress codes, especially when Cannes is all about showcasing visionaries of fashion and film. Let’s cut the bullshit, and give full focus to the films, not the flats.
Follow Amirah Farag on Twitter @MissAmeerkat