Platforms, the height of fashion again…

Platforms, the height of fashion again… and even if you wore them in the 1970s, you’re not too old to wear them this time around

  • Models Jerry Hall and Marie Helvin led the platform shoe trend in the 1970s
  • Alexandra Shulman says they really hit fashion button when Glam Rock took over
  • British fashion expert shares advice for embracing the revival of platform shoes

Fashion is filled with nonsense diktats such as: ‘If you wore it first time around, don’t wear it again’. What rubbish! For older women like me who loved, loved, loved the platform shoes of the 1970s, the revival is a fantastic opportunity to tap into nostalgia for our youth with a contemporary skew.

And for those who didn’t have that earlier experience — well, what fun to wear them now. Of course the 1970s, when models Jerry Hall and Marie Helvin were never out of platforms during Vogue shoots, was not the first appearance of the high-rise shoe.

That was several decades earlier, in the post-war era, when open-toed platform heels could be made out of wood and cork rather than the heavily rationed leather. But they really hit the fashion button when the vibrant colours and textiles of post-hippy glam rock took over.

Left: Vest, £115,; trousers, £80,; boots, £119,; bag, £219,; watch, £134.90, kaptenson. Right: Top, £98, and bag, £228,; trousers, £175, and boots, £240, essentiel-antwerp. com; bangle, £250, and ring, £80,

Left: Dress, £399, and sandals, £279,; ring, £80, Right: Blazer, £375, trousers, £225, and sandals, £225,; watch, £199,

Multicoloured, multi-layered heels gave you the long, skinny silhouette of the moment, and suede Biba platform boots were regulation footwear, worn with colourful tights and under the trailing hems of flares and midi-length skirts and dresses.

Platforms are the complete opposite of the neat, ladylike court shoe, with its slim heel and pointed toe. Platforms are show-offs. They shriek to be noticed, which makes them a terrific way to upgrade a neutral outfit. They have a sassy confidence.

A well-made pair may look vertiginous, but a good designer will ensure that the gradient between heel and sole is calculated so it feels as if you are only wearing a small heel, while giving desirable extra height.

Left: Shirt, £130,; jeans, £98,; sandals, £135, cosstores. com; bag, £89,; watch, £134.90, Right: Cardigan, £199,; jeans, £90, anthropologie. com; sandals, £275,

Left: Shirt, £130,; skirt, £158,; sandals, £85,; ring, £250, Right: Knitted shirt, £118,; skirt, £150,; sandals, £110,; ring, £80

It’s no accident that platforms are having a revival now, as most of us are ready to slough off the trainers and chunky boots that have seen us through pandemic restrictions and several winters. Indeed, they are the perfect trans-season shoe, working with both tights and bare legs.

Sugar-almond colours and patterned platforms are a sign that spring is just a step away, while woven raffia and plaited leather designs are ideal holiday shoes — more stylish than a flip-flop or pool slide. While slingback styles (such as the white ones above) work well, the addition of an ankle strap is hard to carry off. Ankle straps interrupt the line of the leg, making the platform appear a hefty add-on.

The shorter the hem, the lower the platform would be my rule of thumb, but the other night I saw a woman in a black sequined mini and high, silver platforms and she looked fabulous. So, as I mentioned, fashion rules are made to be broken. And this season, platforms are a great way to do that.

Left: Dress, £225,; shoes, £71.20,; bag, £275, russelland; bracelet, £250, and ring, £80, Right: Dress, £279, and shoes, £299,; bag, £295,; bracelet, £365, and ring, £80,

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