Saturday, March 31, 2007

The High Heel.

The high heeled shoe has gone in and out of fashion since before Christ. High heeled shoes were essential to keep Egyptian butchers out of the mess that fell onto the floor. Roman actors wore high platform shoes while they were on stage, so they could be visible to all. The height of the heel was dictated by the needs of the occupation.

During the 1500’s the high heel was introduced simply as a way to increase height and stature. Catherine de Medici was apparently a short girl. When she married the Duke of Orleans in 1533 she wore 2” high heels. During the 1500’s the high heel was popular with both men and women, and even Queen Mary (Bloody Mary) increased her short height with heels. In 1793 Marie Antoinette, another short woman, made the ultimate fashion statement when she was executed while wearing 2” high heels. At least she looked good!

(1500's The Chopine - a platform shoe)

After this time the high heel fell out of favour. They had been a sign of nobility but as times changed and life became tougher and less decadent the high heel had to go. The flatter shoes were far easier to work in. Heels stayed under 2” until the early 20th century.

In 1909 Andre Perugia opened a shoe store and made his own shoes. He reintroduced the high heel and, by the 1930’s, was famous and created shoes for the movie stars of the day. Rita Hayworth was one of his clients.

In 1952 Salvatore Ferragamo introduced the stiletto heel and by 1954 it was adapted by Parisian shoemaker Roger Vivier for the newly released Dior range. Technology haad advanced far enough to enable the heel to have a steel core so that it wouldn’t break. Until then heels had been made of wood and they often snapped. Since the Dior release of the “Stiletto” which is Italian for dagger, the high heel has become a fixture in the shoe wardrobe for most women.

No matter what the height or shape of heel is in fashion, there will always be a high heeled shoe waiting to be rediscovered.

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