STYLE | fashion
The high heel dates as far back as the 1400s, when prostitutes in Venice would wear what were then known as chopines, to stand taller and look more imposing than their rivals. The shoes reached heights up to 18 inches. The later invention of heeled riding boots increased the mass popularity of heels within both male and female fashion, although they were then predominantly worn by men and the heel of a practical and sturdy design. These simple heels soon evolved into more stylised heels that became thinner and higher during the mid-1500s. Catherine de Medici is said to have made high heels fashionable and functional for women, due to her marriage to a rather tall Duke of Orleans (who became the King of France). The petite Catherine de Medici felt somewhat insecure next to the Duke’s favourite mistress, Diane de Poitiers. A pair of two-inch heels remedied this, giving her a more notable physique and adding a sultry sway to her walk. The appeal of these heels caught on quickly, with the elegant footwear soon associated with wealth and privilege. Mary Tudor was another royal who pursued heels for height, however, Queen Elizabeth I was documented as the first wearer of European high heels, in a painting from 1595. Fashionable heels were popular for both sexes by 1590, and a person who had authority or wealth was often referred to as “well-heeled”. By 1790 men had entirely stopped wearing the heel and it became a symbol of femininity.
Early Manolo Blahnik Shoes
• Marilyn Monroe was said to shave a quarter-inch off one of her stilettos so she walked with a wiggle. • Imelda Marcos is one of the world’s most famous shoe collectors. The former First Lady of the Philippines owned 1200 pairs.
King Louis XIV of France
• There is fashion folklore surrounding the Christian Louboutin red soles. According to The New Yorker, the red soles were inspired by Andy Warhol’s drawing Flowers. In 1993, Louboutin designed a shoe using the drawing as inspiration, however, when the prototype of the shoe arrived, he felt like something was missing. At this point, he looked around and saw an assistant painting her nails with a bright red polish. He grabbed her nail polish and painted it all over the black sole of the shoe – and so, the red sole was born. • King Louis XIV of France was known for starting many fashion trends. From his early 20s until he was at least 63 years old, Louis XIV had his heels covered in red Moroccan leather or painted that colour. Maybe this is where Christian Louboutin got his inspiration from?