The height of fashion

It's hard to walk in wedge heels - even harder to resist them.

There are certain things that women love but men hate, or vice versa. (I realise this is a gen eralisation and that there will be exceptions, but without generalisation there would be very little journalism.) One of these things is wedge-heeled shoes.

All of my girlfriends who wear wedges drool over them, especially if the sole is made of cork or rope. I can understand this because wedges - in particular - bring out something of the little girl and dressing up, in a way that other heeled shoes don't. This is especially true if the shoes are wedged platforms (rather than just having a flat front sole like, say, a stiletto does), as it means you can wear shoes that are really ridiculously high, since the sole is also elevated.

Wedges are big news this summer: almost every designer showed them, from Givenchy's slightly bondage take - all white straps and buckles - to Fendi's hybrid version of a wedge with a little kitten heel on the bottom. Prada, not for the first time, had one of the best offerings of them all: sedate autumn colours (Miuccia Prada is not one for wishy-washy, even in the spring collections) and some of the lowest shown. Despite being Italian, the woman behind Prada has never needed to shout, except perhaps with her father, who used to berate her in her teenage years for going out wearing skirts that were a little too short.

Being a girl, I do like a wedge. But my problem is that I cannot walk in them, even though every wedge-wearing woman and her dog tells me that wedges "aren't like wearing high heels - they're sooo comfortable". Wedges have a fault, in that the entire surface area of the sole is often fairly small and it's easy to "go over" on them. Of course, I also contribute to the equation in that I never spent years learning to walk in high heels, as some girls did. As a teenager, I always wore polacchini, or desert boots, as they're known in this country. As a result I have wonderful feet (not that many people get to see them these days), but I am unable to walk in anything above one cent imetre in height for very long. This does not stop me having an enormous collection of high heels which I wear for parties. I change at the door.

My erstwhile neigh bour Lucy used to speed-walk to work in Manhattan in spike-heeled shoes. She recently came to see me, having walked two miles in heels, carrying her three-year-old child for much of the way. I must teach her to shout: "Taxi!"

For those wanting to get into the wedge vibe this summer, I hate to say this (it's already had so much publicity) but Topshop does some of the best around, for the price. The rope wedges, at £60, are hard to beat. Marks & Spencer promised me patent wedge pumps in its promotional literature last year, but I've yet to see them in store.

Annalisa Barbieri was in fashion PR for five years before going to the Observer to be fashion assistant. She has worked for the Evening Standard and the Times and was one of the fashion editors on the Independent on Sunday for five years, where she wrote the Dear Annie column. She was fishing correspondent of the Independent from 1997-2004.

This article first appeared in the 25 June 2007 issue of the New Statesman, Israel, Gaza and a summer of war?