Manolo says, last year, our friends at the Collectors Weekly ran the most fascinating interview with the Elizabeth Semmelhack, author of the book The Heights of Fashion and the senior curator at the Bata Shoe Museum, about the high heels.
This time, the Elizabeth Semmelhack is interviewed about the history and meaning of the flip-flops. Here is the excerpt.
Collectors Weekly: When did it become more acceptable to wear flip-flops outside of the home or during the week?
Semmelhack: Sigerson Morrison made expensive heeled flip-flops at the end of the ’90s. When they made it, it created a buzz because they were also charging quite a bit for those flip-flops. They were not your average $10 flip-flop. I think they cost more than a hundred bucks when they were first offered.
The acceptability of the flip-flop is related to the hypersexualization of women’s dress. That’s why my research has been focused on the high heel. The introduction of the sandal—not the flip-flop but the toe-exposing sandal—in the 1930s, was part of a greater trend towards the “nudification,” for lack of a better term, of the female body. I feel that there has been a marked progression toward increased exposure of the female body.
What I find intriguing now is that men have begun to follow suit—perhaps not the best term here. Men are now falling in line with this increased exposure, and it could be argued this increased exposure is starting at their feet. With that increased exposure is concern about male pedicures and all kinds of grooming of the male body. I do see this as part of this larger continuum toward hypersexualization in dress. But if this exposure of the body is related to hyersexualization, I think the question—are flip-flops sexy—also needs to be asked, and I think the answer is no.
Consider the Sigerson Morrison high-heeled flip-flop. At the end of the ’90s, we certainly saw a lot of high-heeled sandal-like evening shoes for women that exuded erotic appeal.And yet, somehow, that exact same structure, the heeled flip-flop structure wrought in inexpensive plastic, wasn’t. I think that the materials used to make flip-flops, their garish colors and their consistent association with play, has kept the flip-flop from really becoming sexy. On the cover of “Playboy,” you will see women in high heeled thronged sandals, but you don’t see them wearing a pair of flip-flops.
The “nudification” of the female body! This is why the Elizabeth Semmelhack has become one of the Manolo’s favorite fashion intellectuals.
Of the course, she is exactly right. For the past century, the general trend has been the freeing of the female form; bustles, corsets, girdles, and now the panty hose, all gone the way of the dodo bird.
Once the peep-toe shoes were too sexy for the work place, and now, thanks to the modern nudification project, everyone is vajazzaling.
But you must go read the whole thing for it is very interesting.