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NEW YORK (Reuters) - The 1970s hit the catwalk at New York Fashion Week in not only style but price, with budget shoe brand Payless ShoeSource providing footwear valued at less than $45 a pair for three designer shows.
In contrast to the Manolo Blahniks used by other designers -- that sell for several hundred dollars -- Payless hit the runway with shoes created and shown by Abaete by Laura Poretzky, Lela Rose and Stacey Bendet for Alice + Olivia.
"Can you believe -- Payless? They look like Louboutins," Rose said as she held her gray wool pumps, referring to French designer Christian Louboutin, whose shoes fetch $600 a pair or more in luxury department stores.
"I don't do anything for Payless for more than $25, while just four or five buttons would go for that in my normal price point," said Rose, whose dresses often sell for more than $1,000 apiece.
Although Payless, owned by Collective Brands Inc, has strutted the New York catwalks for the past couple of years, its presence this year comes amid a U.S. economy losing jobs and a stock market down sharply.
"Payless' vision is to democratize fashion," Chief Executive Matt Rubel said of the designer licensing deals. "Our philosophy has been to find the young emerging talent, then bring it to our customer at affordable prices."
Poretzky designed a suede high-heeled ankle boot and two silk pumps with pewter studs, while Bendet created boots, Mary Jane wedges and flats in bright colors, polka dots and plaids.
Poretzky put most of the models in gray ankle boots and socks to show her fall collection of wool, jersey and chiffon dresses and separates in gray, black and cadet blue.
"It's a great silhouette for skirts and pants," she said.
After the show, freelance style consultant Rachel Felder called the Abaete look "fabulously wearable. When money is tight, this is what people will buy."
Ankle boots with 3- to 4-inch high heels grabbed the runway spotlight this week. Cynthia Steffe designer Waleed Khairzada paired Manolo Blahnik ankle boots with his fall collection because "they go from day to evening."
Brown Shoe Co. Inc. gave Venexiana designer Kati Stern her pick of its Carlos for Carlos Santana styles to show with her fall collection in New York and plans to make some available online from about $90.
"You will see a lot of platforms with a skinny heel and an ankle strap," said Juliette Harrington Bench, designer for the Carlos for Carlos Santana brand.
Brown Shoe made its Via Spiga knee-high suede boots in bright colors just for the runway to go with designer Tuleh's swinging cocktail skirts.
"Saturated jewel tones of navy, hunter green, merlot, dark purple and graphite" will give fall shoes some pop, said Deborah Wayne, style and trend manager for Brown Shoe NY.
More open-toed styles are expected, while "exotic" faux snake and crocodile patterns will be big.
"No snake died for these shoes," designer Tracy Reese told Reuters backstage after her fall show, when asked about her brown-and-cream snakeskin T-strap shoes with platform soles and high heels. "We use a tannery that does a fantastic job of embossing leather" to mimic python.
On Thursday, Bendet of Alice + Olivia will show her Payless line "Breakfast in Bed." Her favorite style: yellow half boots with a fringed back zipper.
"I can see my uptown girl wearing that downtown shoe with a little black dress," she said.
Editing by Michelle Nichols and Doina Chiacu