With the Collections series of fashion shows right around the corner, and Portland Fashion Week following that in October, soon we'll all be thinking A LOT about clothes. Garments. Tailoring. Fabrics. So before we head into that all-important season for fashion design known as "fall," let's forget about everything above the ankle and focus on JUST one thing: shoes.And although I revel in the dirty barefoot romps of summer as much as anyone, the fall season's offerings make it irresistibly appealing to put my damn shoes back on. It's perhaps summer's shoeless respite that brings so much more enthusiasm to fall shoe designs, which seem to hit the stores with greater density and higher creativity than any other time of year.In anticipation of this, and with arrivals creeping onto the shelves of some of our leading shoe stores, I took a peek at what's in store for us in the coming weeks. As always, boots are huge, with a lot of interesting variations on the ankle or mid-calf style, and the reliable knee-skimming height. Plus, a plethora of flats, sneakers, and heels that hark back to the early 20th century, borrowing shapes reminiscent of the spectator shoe, but embellished in colors, textures, and materials that range from the classic to the funky. And now that you've grown more comfortable with the omnipresent wedge, it too has a strong presence in the latest designs.I began at Halo Shoes (1425 NE Broadway), a longtime favorite of the most stylish personalities in town, where the quality of selection and construction is only matched by the ticket price. Nonetheless, it's hard to regret a purchase here, and frequent sales take the edge off. This fall they're carrying stock from a new line, Twenty Two. Designed in the Bay Area and made in Italy, they feature appealing, rounded-toe designs in neutral colors. Their most unique aspect is the cork heel that they use, very similar to those used on Birkenstocks(!), enhancing the comfort of the shoes without looking at all slouchy. Along with longtime favorite, the Italian Tentazione, which also makes the Halo line exclusively for the store, is another familiar designer: Calleen Cordero. Known for sort-of-rich hippie, handmade shoe designs that employ intricate studwork and other ornamentation, the fall designs include some slightly less aggressive flat designs. Also coming down the chute are some amazing, fun, colorful designs from Chie Mihara, like lilac and green lace-up boots, and other spirited takes on the boot. Lots of Dries Van Noten designs too, with frequent sightings of vintage shapes and lower stacked heels. Also look for new shoes by Costume National, Vialis, Loeffler Randall, and Twelfth Street by Cynthia Vincent. At Olive (404 NW 10th), another great shoe store with a smaller selection—which also caters to children—I saw a familiar shape: They too have caught the Twenty Two bug, but have snatched up different styles, like a clog-esque heel, and boots of varying heights (and they'll also have some boots from the irresistible Chie Mihara line). Also, an influx of Paris' Repetto dance-shoe line has made its arrival, with a good selection of flats as well as supple ankle boots. More flats and slouch boots are coming still from Georgina Goodman, in metallic stripes and polka dots, plus more super-hot boots from Italy's Coclico and pumps from Ireland's Eileen Shields.Zelda's Shoe Bar (633 NW 23rd) is a longstanding source for fine footwear, and they are offering fall styles from Gwen Stefani's L.A.M.B. line, as well as simple, devastating pumps and boots from Yin, a pair of great suede, buckle boots by Aquatalia, sexy heels from Bettye Muller, designs from Donald J. Pliner, Luc Berjen, Rocco P.—the list goes on! Of special note: Zelda's also has an excellent selection of Repettos, as well as an extensive selection from the always-fascinating Cydwoq. At a lower price point, Imelda's and Louie's (3426 SE Hawthorne; 935 NW Everett) is a good source with a huge selection. They're seeing lots of boots from Fornarina, La Canadienne, Hispanitas, and Biviel, cool men's sneakers from Gola and Triple 5 Soul, and a sea of flats from Faryl Robin, Jeffrey Campbell, and many more.So even though it takes a fair amount of effort to put on a happy face for the colder Portland months ahead, we can be sure to face them well-shod, if nothing else. Retail therapy treats SAD: marjorie@portlandmercury.com