Going to Extremes

Racy, athletics-inspired shoes have no business at the gym.


Fashion and performance gear have cross-pollinated yet again. This time the results are straight-up sexy while unapologetically low-function in the sports arena. But that doesn’t mean they can’t make you sweat, particularly those that brazenly channel the sizzle of S&M. For example, Balenciaga’s Nicolas Ghesquière sets a patent-leather and satin boot rigged up with hard-core sportif—stability buckles, work-boot laces and a menacingly high-traction sole—atop a spindly stiletto suited to a mountaineering dominatrix. The motif is less obviously aggressive chez Manolo Blahnik, where Velcro-fastened grosgrain straps tone down the chichi factor of elegant sandals. Ladies, let the games begin.

From left: Balenciaga’s polyurethane, suede and patent-leather boot, by Nicolas Ghesquière, $1,295, at Louis Boston, Boston, 617.262.6100; Manolo Blahnik’s patent-leather and grosgrain shoe, $645, to order at Manolo Blahnik, 212.582.3007