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Shopping: Best Women's Shoes

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Stepping into Bergdorf Goodman's (754 Fifth Avenue, at 58th Street, second floor; 753-7300) elegant shoe salon, with its tan leather rococo chairs, plush ivory settees, and golden chandeliers, you're sure to feel like royalty. Here, footwear designers from Richard Tyler and Diego Dolcini to Gucci and Tod's hold court for your pleasure. "They have everyone's shoes," says cosmetics diva Bobbi Brown, explaining why Bergdorf is her pick for a one-stop shoe mecca. If its smart collection isn't enough, Bergdorf's end-of-season sales will be sure to draw even the most jaded of princesses back for seconds. If downtown chic is your style, then head to the fifth floor, where low-to-the-floor black-leather serpentine seating and sleek, modernist works from labels like Sigerson Morrison and Espace belie the store's midtown address.

Just a few blocks down from Bergdorf is the land of the shoe du jour competition. Jimmy Choo's (645 Fifth Avenue, at 51st Street; 593-0800) sexy satin heels are a hit with young glitterati like Shoshanna Lonstein and Alexandra von Furstenberg, but Manolo Blahnik (31 West 54th Street; 582-3007) is still the champ of the strappy stiletto. No one can rival Blahnik's palette of colors, fabrics, and trimmings, but to walk in the master's shoes takes practice. "I love Manolo Blahnik, but I didn't realize that it was more of a stepping-in-and-out-of-the-car shoe," recalls model-actress Carolyn Murphy, "so I walked around Milan in these God-knows-how-high-heeled boots and then wobbled back to my hotel on a broken heel."

In the market for something more down-to-earth both in price and in heel height? Steve Madden (540 Broadway, near Prince Street, 343-1800; 150 East 86th Street, 426-0538; and 2315 Broadway, near 84th Street, 799-4221) holds the title for affordable facsimiles of the trendiest styles. Superpublisher Judith Regan is a regular, as is Bobbi Brown, who judges: "Steve Madden does great knockoffs."


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