You are not permitted to download, save or email this image. Visit image gallery to purchase the image.
''The rule for today is there are no rules. There are endless options,'' New Zealand Fashion Museum founder and curator Doris de Pont said in Dunedin yesterday.
She was one of five panellists discussing the history of footwear and its role in fashion as part of iD Dunedin Fashion Week.
About 100 people attended the talk, organised in conjunction with the University of Otago.
A former fashion designer, Ms de Pont said she regularly wore about 10 of her 40 pairs of shoes, highlighting the emotional relationship women had with shoes and their inability to throw away old favourites.
She spoke about changing shoe trends, from the pumps which served as a fashion staple in the 1950s to the rise of shoe designers as ''stars'' in the 1990s.
''In the '70s, platforms dictated what clothes had to look like, the '80s was all about excess colour and the rise of sneakers through jazzercise, and in the '90s fashion almost took a back seat to shoe designers such as Christian Louboutin and Manolo Blahnik.''
University of Otago director of continuing education Elaine Webster detailed the social history of shoes and how they had developed through necessity as a means to protect feet.
Dr Webster said shoes were the foundation of any wardrobe, and symbolised mobility and freedom.
Dunedin dress historian and curator Jane Malthus gave a potted history of footwear fashion, and said until relatively recently women's shoes were hidden out of view by long dresses.
''Until about the 19th century, there were no right or left shoes either, just straight shoes that were moulded by wear.''
Modern footwear was highlighted by Auckland shoe designer Sarah Riley, who held up her own golden high heel, complete with Maori koru design and rouching.
''I dress from my shoes up. I choose my shoes then I choose my outfit around them,'' she said.
Ziera group design leader Angela Roper, of Auckland, said the best shoes were those which balanced function and fashion.
''Shoes are an extension of your personal style.''