HIGH HEELS AND HOW FAR WE’VE COME IN THEM
High heels have become iconic symbols of fashion, elegance, and femininity. These stylish footwear choices have a rich and intriguing history that spans centuries. From their humble origins to their status as coveted fashion statements, high heels have evolved and transformed, leaving an indelible mark on the world of fashion.
The story of high heels can be traced back to ancient civilizations. The earliest known examples date back to ancient Egypt, where murals and artifacts depict people wearing elevated shoes as early as 3500 BCE. These early heels were worn by both men and women and served practical purposes such as protecting the feet from rough terrain.
The Persian Empire played a significant role in shaping the evolution of high heels. During the 10th century, Persian horse riders began wearing heeled shoes to help them secure their feet in stirrups while riding. This functional design eventually caught the attention of European nobility and became associated with power and status.
The Renaissance period in Europe saw a resurgence of interest in the aesthetics of footwear. Heels became increasingly popular among European aristocracy, with the height and style of heels evolving to reflect social status. It was during this time that the iconic stiletto heel emerged, characterized by its slender and elongated shape.
In the 16th and 17th centuries, platform shoes gained popularity, particularly in Venice. These shoes featured thick soles or platforms, often made of wood or cork, that elevated the wearer significantly. Platform shoes were favored by both men and women and were often adorned with lavish decorations, reflecting the opulence of the era.
During the Rococo period, high heels reached new heights of extravagance. Lavish and ornate designs adorned with intricate embellishments became the epitome of fashion. However, the French Revolution marked a turning point, as heels fell out of favor due to their association with the aristocracy. Flat shoes became the preferred choice, reflecting the revolution’s ideals of simplicity and equality.
The Victorian era brought about a resurgence of high heels, albeit in a more modest manner. Women’s fashion emphasized a demure and feminine aesthetic, with heels providing a subtle lift and enhancing the graceful silhouette of long skirts. Heeled boots and button-up shoes became popular choices, reflecting the era’s emphasis on propriety and elegance.
The 20th century witnessed significant transformations in high heel fashion. The 1920s embraced the Art Deco movement, with low-heel and T-strap designs reflecting the era’s newfound liberation and women’s changing roles. The mid-20th century saw the introduction of wedge heels, block heels, and the iconic stiletto reimagined by prominent designers like Christian Dior and Roger Vivier.
High heels have become an integral part of contemporary fashion and popular culture. They continue to evolve with new materials, innovative designs, and avant-garde styles. High heels are now seen as bold fashion statements, exuding confidence and allure on runways, red carpets, and in everyday life.
The history and evolution of high heels have taken us on a remarkable journey through time. From their utilitarian beginnings to becoming fashion icons, high heels have transcended cultural norms and societal shifts. Today, they remain a symbol of style, femininity, and self-expression. As we step into the future, high heels are sure to continue captivating fashion enthusiasts and leaving their elegant imprint on the world of footwear.