“ Brand: Carvela / Type: Platform Shoes „
My mum knows me too well. When Mark asked her for present ideas for me last year she immediately said 'shoes', the problem being that the last pair of shoes she bought me I didn't like despite their designer name (and price tag!) so she didn't particularly want to suggest anything specific. Eventually Mark dragged himself into a small boutique in Worcestershire and (with the assistants help, no doubt) chose this pair of Carvela Azalia heeled shoes in Nude. They cost at the time a shade under £150 and haven't really come down in price since then, with most places selling them for around £130 and 'used' pairs being available on Ebay for £70 - £90.
They must be hugely popular amongst shoe lovers and collectors, although I honestly can't see why as they are incredibly uncomfortable to wear with an appearance that screams 'cheap and nasty'. Sometimes a designer name turns people into idiots, but I seriously can't see the attraction of these - and all I can say is that the boutique assistant must have rubbed her hands with glee when Mark walked in, patently out of his depth and the perfect person to sell the worst shoes in the shop to!
When I unwrapped them my first impressions weren't good; the patent leather is more beige than a true Nude, to be honest the colour is largely irrelevant as this patent leather is really badly done. It's overly shiny for a start, which is never good when it comes to pale shoes (although can be carried off on browns and blacks) and the upper actually looks synthetic in a similar way to those designer rip-off shoes you can buy at any local market. I do like the way Carvela have carried the patent leather down the length of the contrasting chocolate brown heel (see? A true Nude would simply not be complimented by such a dark heel!), but this effect is spoiled by the fact that the platform is non-patent and therefore looks dull in comparison to the over-shiny shoe itself.
These shoes are a peep toe style and here lies another problem as the peep is too wide to be fashionable, it shows far too much toe cleavage and gives the shoes an extremely old fashioned look. I've found you have to be extra careful to team these Azalia shoes with highly modern clothing or else you can end up looking a little Joan Collins, and no one wants that do they?! Before wearing these shoes you need to ensure your feet are in tiptop condition from perfectly pedicured toes to having smooth (non-cracked!) heels as so much 'foot' is visible in them, something I'm not completely impressed about with my wonky middle toe!
The shoes are extremely well made; the quality is there, it's just the styling that's lacking. Stitching is beautifully hidden, the holes are punched with perfect precision, the buckle has a smooth weightiness - it's the little things that scream 'quality' with these shoes. You know something; if you like how they look, and can deal with aching feet, you're probably onto a good thing with these as they are so very well made! The heel is secure to the sole of the shoe, that's important when you consider the 5.5" heel and just under an inch platform as it's a lot of pressure on a very small portion of the shoe. The platform is soft but overall the sole is very thin and hard; the thinness is understandable as far as the design goes but it makes for highly uncomfortable walking.
Or standing, I should say. Us girls know heels like this aren't meant for walking in - the Azalia is a showy shoe, you're going to mainly be wearing them for nights out rather than traipsing around so the issue is how kind (or not) they are to the soles of your feet. I put them to the test a few weeks ago when I wore them to a family 'gathering' and ended up standing for a good two hours before naffing a seat - I can usually put up with the ache of high heels but these really made the arch of my foot burn, to the point of the area feeling bruised for a couple of days afterwards. The sharp slope of the sole doesn't help with this, stretching the bones in my ankle and foot almost to snapping point - I'm confident in heels but these Azalia shoes encourage my feet to sit in such a bizarre position that I can't help but walk with a slight wobble. It's a common misconception that a platform at the front of the shoe will offset the heel height, in practice this simply isn't true as often the platform is just something else to overcome - just in case a 5.5" heel isn't enough to contend with. Actually this platform is reasonably good; the bands of brown bring the shoes together as far as the contrasting colours go and it's impressively cushioned, so much so that the balls of my feet don't suffer at all when I am walking or standing - although this is also a disadvantage as I find I concentrate more on the other pains these shoes cause if I haven't the usual area to worry about!
The back strap is in a good place on my foot, it rubbed very slightly the first time I wore the shoes but soon softened enough to be comfortable. I like the large circular buckle as it's easy to handle and holds well while I'm wearing the shoes, you can slip them on and off without using the buckle at all but being easy to unfasten does make life a little easier when it comes to cleaning the shoes.
Considering the pale colour, these Azalia shoes really don't mark or get dirty. Part of this is obviously due to the fact that you're likely to only be walking from car to bar stool in them - and then barely moving unless you need the loo! I've found the section where the shoe upper touches the platform is where it gets a little grimy, there are shoe cleaning products aplenty available for purchase but these are easily dealt with using a baby wipe as they're so shiny - don't bother with £25 cleaning spray (I kid you not!), a £1.99 pack of Huggies wipes will do the job just as well! Of course, these expensive cleaners will also protect your shoes over time but to be honest with you I feel this style of shoe needs only a simple polish over as it's highly unlikely you're going to be walking through puddles or mud in them!
I'm getting rid of mine. They're just not comfortable enough and while I will go for style over comfort when it comes to shoes, I have others which are both easier on my feet AND look better - if after everything I've said you still fancy owning a pair of Carvela Azalia keep an eye on Ebay as mine will be on there very soon!
The big V word has started appearing now with various shops stocking cards and items which can be seen from a mile off due to their bright red shade. For me I do like to celebrate Valentines Day purely as my other half and I go out for a wonderful meal together, exchange token gifts and cards and we basically have a very romantic day. It isn't a day that everyone celebrates and I know quite a few people who detest the day but for me I enjoy it.
This year we are going to York for the weekend while my parents are babysitting our daughter - they are more than happy spending time with their granddaughter and we are more than happy having two days of proper time together as normally we are so busy we hardly get 10 minutes together. For this Valentines weekend I knew a table was booked at a very nice, modern albeit slightly quirky restaurant and I wanted to wear something special. I had found the dress whilst in Cambridge a few weeks ago so all was needed was a matching pair of shoes - I don't always buy shoes to go with a new outfit but this weekend was special.
I of course ended up in my favourite store...Kurt Geiger. This was incredibly predictable as when I am in Cambridge I always end up coming home with something from Kurt Geiger as I just can't resist. But the shoes are actually from Carvela which is a brand I love as their shoes really seem to fit me well. The shoes I chose are an unpredictable choice for me as they are bright red/ orange something I would normally walk past and straight to a dark coloured shoe. The shoes are called Azalia and are this season's stock (I tried to find something in the sale but nothing was in my size).
What Carvela say:
"Azalia by Carvela is a striking court with slender high heel and multi-colour platform sole. Also featuring sling-back and peep toe, team with a LBD so all eyes are on these!"
Azalia comes in gold, nude or orange (more like a red) but as you can see from the picture I opted for the red shade as they would match my dress wonderfully (I did however wonder when I would be able to wear them again). The shoes are patent and have a real high gloss finish to them which can and will scuff far too easily so you will have to be careful when wearing them. Carvela class the shoes as orange but they are far redder than your bog standard carrot shade of orange but not verging on poppy red.
The platform on these shoes really make them stand out and add much needed detail to the shoes. The platform is made up of 'layers' all of contrasting colours which really match the flame red shoe. The colours are pink, dark red and then the same colour as the shoe itself. All three colours go well together and don't clash. The inside of the shoe is synthetic and the same shade of red as the shoes. There is no padding in the heel or footbed areas of the shoes which is a shame as when walking in such high shoes your feet do need to be comfortable.
The heel height is 140mm and is an incredibly slim stiletto teamed with a substantially sized platform. Now I'm quite confident wearing heels in fact I wear heels most days as I do prefer them over flats but as I put them in the shop I did need a helping hand to stand up (quite embarrassing to have people watch you wobble!). But once I was up and walking/ wobbling around the limited floor space I soon found my feet and managed to walk perfectly fine. Because they have a thin heel they do make you feel a little unbalanced but they don't actually feel as high due to the platform.
Azalia don't offer much support for your foot but there is a strap which goes around your heel which is adjusted by a little round silver buckle (this does stretch a little so you may want to adjust this accordingly). This helps keep your foot in the shoe and it also makes your feet feel a little more secure. Azalia are a peep toe which is not overly wide so your toes can't move an awful lot and I sometimes find that with a narrow peep toe this can rub your toes. However, since wearing these around the house (I don't want sore feet over my valentines weekend!) my toes haven't felt too crushed or rubbed.
The shoes are made from a synthetic material which although I prefer leather shoes as they don't rub as much due to the leather softening I found that Azalia are actually pretty comfortable. They are quite supple to start off with anyway so they didn't feel rigid on my feet. I've only been wearing them around the house, yes a bit much for house wear but I am breaking them in and so far there has been no rubbing whatsoever even from the strap around my heel. My feet have however been desperate for my slippers after a couple of hours but the shoes have softened a little and are actually quite comfortable to wear.
Overall, these are a gorgeous pair of bold coloured shoes and I did buy them to go with a certain outfit which even though it will be worn on valentines it will get used throughout the year so the shoes will be worn more than once but because of the colour as vibrant and gorgeous as it is, for me I probably won't wear them all that often. However, that being said the shoes will last me for quite sometime so even though the initial expense is high they wont be replaced for a few years. Azalia are certainly comfortable and even though your feet aren't particularly supported the slingback does make your feet feel a little more secure.
Azalia are available from Carvela retailers such as Kurt Geiger and John Lewis. They are new season's stock and currently cost £130.00 (all colours are the same price). Sizes come in 3 to 8.