Friday, March 20, 2015

Feature Friday: High Heels

“I don’t know who invented the high heel but women owe him a lot." - Marilyn Monroe

Today's Feature Friday focuses on the one accessory every woman has in her closet: a pair of high heels.

As it turns out, the high heel wasn't actually invented as much as it "evolved" thanks to Venetian prostitutes, British Queens, and French designers.

Women’s platform shoes, or chopines, are thought to have originated with prostitutes in Venice. The shoes reached heights up to 18 inches. See them HERE.

The origin of high heels is debated. Some believe they either evolved from chopines or arrived from men's equestrian footwear in the Near East.

The first documented wearer of European high heels is Queen Elizabeth I. She was painted wearing a pair, and in “Queen Elizabeth’s Wardrobe Unlock’d,” clothing historian Janet Arnold includes a list of the queen’s clothes from 1595, with “a payre of spanyshe lether shoes with highe heels and arches.”

Early shoes, like the ones pictured below, often used straps called “latchets” with lace or ribbon ties — an early form of shoelaces.
Men’s and women’s shoe styles were very similar until about 1660. After that, men’s shoes tended to be more practical, while women’s shoes became more ornate, with silks, brocades, braids and velvet.

King Louis XIV of France started many fashion trends, including red heels and soles.

From his early 20s until he was at least 63 years old, Louis XIV had his heels covered in red Morocco leather or painted that color.

The Pompadour heel, named after Madame de Pompadour (a mistress of King Louis XV) came about in 1750. These heels were curved and very difficult to walk in. However, that didn't stop the shoe from becoming popular as it spread from Paris across Europe. See them HERE.

The stiletto was first introduced in 1953 by Christian Dior. Shoe designer Roger Vivier, who worked for Dior, is credited for its invention. He used plastic to create a strong, slender shell which he called "the needle."


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