Style Watch

updated 10/10/1994 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 10/10/1994 AT 01:00 AM EDT

SPIKED PUNCH

Pitch the platforms. Dump the Doc Martens. This season, celebs can be found teetering around town as the stiletto heel stages a comeback. Witness Heather Locklear's balancing act recently at the Emmys in Los Angeles. A few days earlier, Jamie Lee Curtis looked hot on her heels at the American Cinematheque Moving Picture Ball in Hollywood. Ann Magnuson made her point at August's Hollywood premiere of Clear and Present Danger, while Elle Macpherson rose to the occasion at L.A.'s MTV Movie Awards earlier in the summer. Says supermodel Veronica Webb, owner of more than 50 pairs of stilettos: "They change the length of your leg. I think a high heel makes your foot look really elegant."

Which is exactly why the stiletto first became popular with European aristocrats—both men and women—during the 18th century. Later, '30s stars such as Marlene Dietrich and Jean Harlow made spikes synonymous with sex appeal, while Marilyn Monroe helped move the style into the mainstream. Though chic through the '70s and '80s, stilettos suffered during the recent rage for function over form, only to have designers bring them back this year.

"Women want feminine shoes," explains George Malkamos, president of Manolo Blahnik, whose stilettos have been strapped on by Sandra Bernhard and Sarah Jessica Parker. "They may have bought one pair of platforms but weren't happy about it. Their husbands would ask, 'What the hell do you have on your feet?' "

Though shoe designer Stuart Weitzman applauds the return of haute couture heels (his are worn by Kim Basinger and Diana Ross), he concedes, "No woman is buying these for comfort." Dr. Francesca Thompson, chief of the adult foot clinic at New York City's St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital, agrees, saying that though high heels "make the ankle look nice and the calf look slender," excessive wear can cause severe foot deformities and pain. Still, such warnings may not be enough to send anyone stumbling back to her platforms. "No, no, no," insists Webb. "Too Frankenstein."

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