Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Genealogy of heels

As a woman with more than 50 pairs of all kinds of heels and most of them impractical and worn maybe once, i felt that researching the history of heels would definitely relate of me.

Some of the earliest depictions of heels are in ancient Egyptian murals on tombs and temples in approximately 4000 BC. These were flexible leather pieces held in place by lacing.

Around 200 BC platform sandals called kothorni, later knowns ad buskins in the renaissance were introduced. They were shoes with high cork or wood soles and were popular among Greek and Roman actors. It is said that in ancient rome, sex trade was not illegal and female prostitues were indentified by their high heels.

During the middle ages both men and women wore "pattens", wooden soles. Pattens would attach to shoes to keep them out of the mud for walking outdoors.

Part of the The Arnolfini Portrait 1432


In the 1400's "Chopines", platform shoes were created in Turkey. Worn exclusively by women, they were popular through out europe until the mid 1600's. They could be 7-8 or even up to 30 inches high and required canes and servants to help women walk. From 1400-1700 chopines were popularly worn in Venice by both patrician woman and courtesans. The height of the chopine refered to cultural and social standing; the higher the chopine, the higher the status.

Pair of chopines
Italian, 1610–20
Italy (Venice)
11 x 12.1 x 22.7 cm (4 5/16 x 4 3/4 x 8 15/16 in.)
White (alum?) punched leather with silk tassels, silk woven tape, wood or cork

Pair of chopines
Italian (Venice), about 1700
Italy (Venice)
12 x 9.5 x 21.6 cm (4 3/4 x 3 3/4 x 8 1/2 in.)
Silk damask with silk embroidery, silk and gilt-silvered galloon, silk and gilt-silver tassel, brass, stamped leather, leather and wood

17th century
Venice, Italy
Tooled leather with silk tape and tassel, and wood stilt

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York,

During the 1500's , shoes started being made in two pieces. A flexible upper attached to a stiffer sole. So it wasn't like the attachable pattens ans so forth. It was also in response to riders, male and female frokm slippings from their stirrups.

It is said that the formal invention of high heels as fashion rather than function was started out by Catherine de Medici (1519-1589). Her short stature caused her insecurity and so she wore 2" high heels which gave her an alluring sway and a towering physique. They become a wild succes and soon they were associated with privelge.

In the early 1700s, France's King Louis XIV decreed that only nobility could wear heels that were colored red and that no one's heels could be higher than his own

In 1791 the these heels disappeared with the french revolution and they were banished in attempt to show equality.

In 1860's high hells became popular again, mainly because the invention of the sewing machine.

In the 20th century, one of the most innovative shoe designers was Roger Vivier. He looked to the history for inspiration yet used avant-garde techniques to create something very original.

He was one of the first designers to use clear plastic in his work. This happened after the WW II, 1940's.

Today's world of shoes, the 21st century.
Heels are definitely a form of art, and they are definitely for fashion than function. They make you look sexy, giving the illusion of long legs, nice curves and so forth.
It comes in all colors and all styles. The sky is the limit!

Antonio Berardi 2008

Fendi 09

Spring 09 Christian Dior Couture

Givency fall 2009

Christian Di0r fall 09

Alexander Mcqueen Summer/Spring 09, Swarovski crystals
I absolutely adore these shoes!!!

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