WHEN style icon Victoria Beckham tottered out in a pair of sky-high platform shoes the other week, the fashion pack were soon hot on her five and a half-inch designer heels.

Sales of the vertiginous Yves Saint Laurent shoe are now soaring, and according to the fashion pundits, heels are set to get even higher this season.

Apparently the platform sole makes them more comfortable because the foot is only working with a two and half inch heel height.

But as far as most men are concerned (with the exception of the vertically challenged pop star Prince and diminutive designer Roberto Cavalli) it's still a mystery why any woman would voluntarily torture their feet in this way.

And yet Cindy Rogerson who works at The Shoe Studio in Beales, Bournemouth, says that they continue to be the most popular style of shoe.

"There is a huge fashion for mega-high heels at the moment - ever since Victoria Beckham stepped out in those YSL platforms!

"They've got them in all colours this season and they're bigger than ever especially when combined with the current trend for pencil skirts.

"There are lots of reasons why high heels are so popular," Cindy explains. " High heels elongate and tone your legs and make you walk in a more feminine way.

"You can't tear around when you're wearing high heels. It makes you walk more sedately. High heels are for women who like to feel like a woman."

Kate Thorp of Alum Chine in Bournemouth, never wears shoes with less than a two-inch heel. "I do have some very high heels but I only wear those if I don't have to walk very far.

"I think the feet are one of the sexiest parts of the body - well they're certainly the slimmest part of my body which is why I like to show them off in fabulous shoes! If people are looking at your shoes it distracts their attention from the rest of your body!"

Fashion author James Sherwood believes that a good shoe is verging on being a work of art " especially the heel."

And Echo writer Helen Stanley says her mum is such a fan she even wears high-heeled wellington boots!

But high heels are nothing new - they've been around for hundreds of years so we decided to step back in time to find out where the famous high heel shoe came from...