Diary of the Shoe Collector

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.