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In the age of Gaga practicality is not a word commonly associated with fashion. When it comes to footwear the more outlandish the better, unsurprising as the design was inspired by futurist artist Lucio Venner. With the likes of Jonathan Walford describing modern footwear as ‘wearable art’, it poses the question, are shoes now more an artistic statement? Popularised by Salvatore Ferragamo in the 1930s, these shoes are still celebrated as a footwear innovation. Almost a century later, wedges still look the most avant-garde on the shoe rack. Due to the peak in popularity during the 1970s, it’s often assumed that wedges were a product of the disco era: adorned with sequins and partnered with flares. In reality wedges made a first appearance on the catwalk in 1937. An alternative to flat, masculine shoes for Women during WW2, wedges allowed them to embrace their femininity. The thicker soles of these shoes became a stable solution to stilettos. The design was originally created with one purpose for practicality. This is accomplished by exerting confidence through height, without compromising the wearer’s comfort and stability. Reoccurring season after season, wedges have only become more inventive. The key initially was versatility. Restrictions on material throughout the wartime period, encouraged creative minds such as Ferragamo to experiment with a variation of fabric. Cork was sculpted to give the heel support, combined with fabrics considered multipurpose by 1930’s standards, such as velvet. Today sees the turn of a new generation of futuristic shapes from Jil Sander’s lazer cut wooden wedged platform to Gareth Pugh’s slick combination of overlapping black and leather suede. Style icons such as Claudia Cardinale in the 1970s, Madonna in the 1980s and Alexa Chung have fallen for wedges making them ubiquitous in the bottom of British wardrobes. As androgynous trends flourish in contemporary fashion, designers are creating a new spin on conventional footwear. On the Rick Owens’ 2010 Autumn/ Winter catwalk, even men are wearing wedges.

WEDGES


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