This Is the Summer of the Platform Heel
A stylist and a designer weigh in to explain why that is.
Footwear enthusiasts spent most of the pandemic wondering if high heels would survive the pandemic-induced prioritization of comfort. Now, not only have they returned, they’re larger (read: taller) than ever. Versace’s cult-favorite Medusa Aevitas pumps (recently spotted on the feet of Dua Lipa, Nicola Peltz, and more) stand at a whopping 15.5 centimeters—that’s just over six inches. Their saving grace? The three-inch platform.
Similar platform styles were spotted on the runways of Gucci, Valentino, and Saint Laurent. Those same shoes have emerged on subsequent red carpets and press appearances worn by Zendaya, Millie Bobby Brown, and Julia Fox. According to luxury online marketplace 1stDibs, searches for terms that include the phrase “platform heel” have increased 150 percent year over year. Their most in-demand pre-owned styles came from Versace, Christian Louboutin, Prada, and Saint Laurent.
The towering footwear is surprisingly practical, though they appear anything but. “Most of the time, we are working with [runway] samples, which were crafted for models upwards of 5’9,"” says stylist Jacqueline Zenere. (For comparison, Zenere works with Britt Lower, 5’6”, and Ashley Benson, 5’4.”) A sky-high heel can eliminate the need to alter the hem of a dress—though you’ll find them paired with mini hemlines almost as often. “Many of my clients also err on the side of comfort when it comes to footwear,” she continues. “Platforms lessen the pitch feet have to be at in order to create height [creating] a happy solution: a longer silhouette and a comfortable client.” Her client Lower actually refers to the style as “feet ladders.”
Mo D’Accori, of his eponymous footwear line D’Accori, has made a name for himself with glittering “feet ladders” that have graced the feet of Dua Lipa, Lady Gaga, Doja Cat, Ariana Grande, and Alexa Demie. Inspired by fashion photography, pop culture, Studio 54, and all things '90s nostalgia, D’Accori began his career experimenting with larger-than-life shoe designs for Lady Gaga and Beyonce in the early 2010s before launching a more commercial offering in the summer of 2021.
“There was a lot of trial and error in the prototype stage to make sure we maintain a balanced and comfortable fit,” he assures me. Unlike the skinny-heel platform styles popular in the early 2010s, D’Accori has evolved the silhouette to feature a wider heel more akin to those of the 1970s (say sayonara to the six-inch stiletto!). The heel of D’Accori’s signature Belle sandal spans over an inch in diameter—stilettos often span less than one centimeter where they come in contact with the ground.
Photo: Courtesy of Mo D'Accori
On the part of the wearer, even more can be done to ensure comfort. “Believe it or not, when it comes to really high platforms, I size up because if the pitch is still at a certain angle (above 45 degrees I’d say) they tend to be smaller than the expected fit,” explains Zenere. Whereas heel- or ball-of-foot pads can solve the problem of extra room, little can be done if the shoe is too small. “I also check on the weight of the shoe itself, if they are really heavy and have a thin ankle strap even Giselle will get exhausted wearing them,” she posits.
“If you want a classic '70s platform, Saint Laurent is my go-to,” Zenere suggests. “Tom Ford as well. And Giuseppe Zanotti is always there for me when I need them! For more affordable options, I look at Larroudé, Stuart Weitzman, and Schutz,” she says. “I [recently] put Sara Ramos in an amazing pair from Kat Maconie.”