Diary of the Shoe Collector

By Manolo the Shoeblogger

Manolo says, the website Collector’s Weekly has the interview with the super fantastic John Walford, author of the book The Seductive Shoe and shoe collector extraordinaire. Here is the very tasty excerpt.

Collectors Weekly: What were women wearing at the beginning of the 20th century?

Walford: This was just around the period when hemlines were beginning to creep up. Interestingly, shoes were almost a reaction to the fashions of the time. A lot of the Edwardian turn-of-the-century fashions were dripping in lace and making the most of the feminine figure, with padded buttocks, a padded bosom, and a tight waist. The look was ultra feminine. In contrast, shoes were often very masculine—little, tight Oxford shoes with low heels, very suffragette in comparison to the elaborate femininity of the costume itself. Even in eveningwear or with very fancy dresses, the footwear was still quite practical and masculine.

Embroidered shoes by French designer Greco from 1927.

All that changed in the 1910s with the rise of the hem. There was the introduction of straps and color in womens footwear. Of course the leg was still not supposed to be seen in its naked form, so stockings were opaque. But the shoes themselves brought attention to the leg and the foot.

Shoe design took off in the 1920s and ’30s when bare legs and translucent stockings became acceptable. Suddenly shoes were brightly colored and highly decorated. French shoe designer André Perugia got his start in the 1920s, doing fantastical designs and colors and patterns for Paul Poiret. Roger Vivier designed shoes for Elsa Schiaparelli in the 1930s. This is when shoe design as we know it really began.

And now you must go read the whole thing, as it is remarkably informative and lengthy.


One Response to “Diary of the Shoe Collector”

  1. La BellaDonna Says:

    La BellaDonna, she would take issue with the assertion that Shoe design took off in the 1920s and ’30s when bare legs and translucent stockings became acceptable. Suddenly shoes were brightly colored and highly decorated. It is true (some) shoes WERE brightly colored and highly decorated – but so, then, were many of the shoes that dated from the turn of the century INTO the 1920s. She has the books with the photographs of the fabulous shoes which she would LOVE to have, and they predate the 1920s: coloured leathers, metallics, embroidered silks, glittering beads, some of them with the high, HIGH, heels – there is nothing masculine about them, except for the fact that they are worn upon the feets!

    La BellaDonna, she knows that for some, the choice is chocolate, and for others, it is the peanut butter fudge ripple, and she does not mind in the least that the John Walford, his preference is for the shoes of the 1920s, 1930s and later; she merely minds that it is his opinion – Even in eveningwear or with very fancy dresses, the footwear was still quite practical and masculine. – that he serves up as the fact.

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