Photo: Hans Gissinger

F ashion’s body-part focus is always on the move: One season, the waist gets all the attention, the next it’s all cleavage or bottom-enhancing pants. Right now, we’re firmly in the grip of footwear love. In the past few seasons, shoe design has gone far beyond the pointy-toe stiletto that dominated for so long (and which now looks somewhat prim). It’s the apex of a craze that began about seven years ago, when a certain HBO series introduced mainstream America to Manolo Blahnik and the world of the $600 shoe. Suddenly, it was acceptable to spend a month’s rent on something in which you’d pound the pavement. It’s not a Manolo-or-nothing moment anymore (though women still line up to have him autograph their soles); the roster of lust-worthy names has expanded considerably. A browse though the shoe department these days turns up one example after another of exuberance, architecture, drama: bamboo scaffolds on a pair of platforms (Prada), to-the-knee gladiator sandals (Donna Karan), a towering hardwood wedge (Chloé), a sophisticated take on the dominatrix pump (Christian Louboutin), a kaleidoscope of ballerina flats. The sticker shock has expanded, too—$800 for an Azzedine Alaïa platform with studded straps and a reptilian heel is winceable. Still, the shoe is incredible. And if you don’t like that, there are dozens of other choices, at all prices. This particular moment is about choice, which you’ll find plenty of in the next nine pages: the runway showstoppers, the limited editions, the brand-new labels you haven’t obsessed over (yet), and most important, where to buy them.

They’re Everywhere
When asked to predict the dominant women’s shoe for spring, retailers at four very different stores reached the same conclusion.

The Sales
Mark your calendars now for steals in basics, flats, new styles, and party shoes.

These Shoes Rule
The most creative new shoe designers aren’t just from Milan and Paris. Meet three local talents worth getting excited about.

Cinderella Stories
Four foot-challenged women shop for a shoe that fits.

Bespoke Shoes
Custom-made shoes are to regular shoes as a great meal is to a microwave burrito. E. Vogel’s take three months.

How to Fall Down
A five-step primer for minimizing bruising to body and ego.

Shoe Repair
Where to remodel, recreate, and protect your favorite pair.

Ask the Foot Doctor
We asked Dr. Rock Positano what high heels really do to women’s feet.

Men’s Shoe Primer
Top-dollar and price-conscious footwear for every persona.

Five Simple Rules for Men’s Dress Shoes
The do’s and don’ts.

550 Pairs and Counting
The shoe collection of Michael Millon, Venture Capitalist.

The $482 Difference
What makes one loafer worth several hundred dollars more than another? (Sometimes, not very much.)

Slideshow: 40 Years in Shoes
From flats to Uggs to Crocs, and beyond.