2011 was a year of extremes in shoe design, with styles that are normally limited to the underground going totally mainstream, thanks in part to Avant-Garde dressers like Lady Gaga. The fetish trend came out of the dungeon, on to the catwalk and into the street, while popular styles from previous seasons like Gladiator sandals died almost a complete death. Finally, we witnessed the biggest current footwear taboo of all take to the runway: Christopher Kane's flat shoes. Let's run down the highs and lows of the year in footwear

1. Shoes without heels

Seen at Alexander McQueen, Antonio Berardi, Natacha Marro, Giuseppe Zanotti, and others, heel-less shoes were the surprise big hitter of the year. Victoria Beckham famously wore her thigh-length Beradi heels a few years back and it looked to be a style that would never go mainstream. But with more accessible brands like Jeffrey Campbell adopting the look, this now appears to have happened!


2. Fetish footwear

Designers have been flirting with fetish almost as long as there have been shoes, but 2011 was the year when the dark trend truly saw the light of day. There was more black leather in our wardrobes than ever before, so it seemed only fitting to echo the look in our footwear, and designers like Jerome C Rousseau, Bionda Castana and Melissa really caught the mood.


3. Block Colour

Colour blocking was one of the biggest trends of 2011, and the look translated well into footwear, especially when applied to chunky shoes and boots with big platforms, providing the canvas for two or more colours to sit alongside each other. Colours we wouldn't have dreamed of putting together a year ago - like yellow/pink, blue/green and orange/fuchsia became commonplace, and labels from ASOS to Mary Portas collection for Clarks started going in for the look in a big way. 


4. Jewel tones

In the autumn of 2011, the brights and pastels we'd seen making up the colour blocking trend gave way to jewel tones, which worked both on chunky-soled shoes and more delicate styles, too. Some designers picked up on the dazzling shine of jewels, creating their shoes in with shiny patent or foily surfaces that caught the light. Others decorated them with gemstones around the heels, toes and platforms. Almost all stuck to a peacock-toned colour palette of jade, turquoise, grape-purple, blue and green, echoing the dominant colours we wore in our clothes. 


5. Socks in shoes

2011 was the year it became acceptable to keep your socks on under your shoes! High heeled shoes and Mary Janes in particular started to be worn over short pop socks, as seen on the runway at Dolce & Gabbana, Vivienne Westwood et. al. The look appears to be on the up, so it remains to be seen whether the age-old rule about never wearing socks with sandals will be overturned this summer - and judging by what we saw at some of the spring/summer shoes for 2012, the chances are it will...


6. Wedges

Wedges remained a strong style all through 2011 after making a major comeback in 2010. This year their reach extended beyond the usual summer sandals and ankle boots, and were a particular hit in casual footwear as seen in the black wedge trainers worn by Little Mix. Another big style ambassador for the wedge shoe was Kate Middleton, whose stacked L.K Bennett patent espadrilles were sold out for pretty much the whole year! Take another look at them here


7. Flatform shoes

Not a hit with everybody, the 'flatform' look was a style that emerged in 2011 and now seems to be gaining more general acceptance. A hybrid style crossed between a platform and a flat shoe, they were seen at Prada, Chanel and elsewhere. Highly compatible with the summer's maxi-dresses yet undoubtedly rather ugly in their way, they were 2011's answer to last year's clogs. Will you be warming to the look next summer?

slipper-style-shoe.png8. Slipper-style shoes

Where 2010 had the 'boyfriend' shoe and brogues, 2011 ushered in the 'slipper' style shoe: often ornate with studs, embroidery or rich materials, just like the ballet pumps we've seen for many seasons now. The look got the seal of approval from Christian Louboutin who decorated his slippers with spiked metal studs and is also worn in a heeled style that echoes Roger Vivier's 'Pilgrim' pump look.


9. Chunky heels

Chunky or 'tree trunk' heels have been 'in' for a few seasons now, but in 2011 they became the standard go-to look for high heeled shoes and were available on every high street. The look is easy to embellish, attracting gemstones and much decoration, and also works well as a canvas for block colour. The banana heel, as made famous by Miu Miu's glitter pumps was also a micro-trend in 2011 that looks set to be huge later on this year as high street chains catch on. 


10. Spiked heels

Ever confusing, fashion also dealt us the spiked heel or 'true stiletto' as an on-trend style for 2011.The look is going to continue on into summer 2012, with a shorter, stubbier but every bit as spiky heel taking the lead role. Expect to see this look teamed with neon shades and little stabs of glitter as the year progresses. It's a tricky style to pull off, so you might want to start practicing your best stiletto walk now - and watch out for those drains!