The ancient history of High Heeled Shoes


High Heels in Ancient Greece and Rome

There were early depictions of high heeled shoes seen originally in Egyptian Murals, these showed ancient Egyptian royalty wearing tall shoes, setting them above and apart from the workers who would often go without shoes at all! The Greeks and Romans wore shoes with wooden cork bases that were popular amongst ancient actors, physically separating them from everyone else due to their increased height!

High heels were also worn by the ladies of the night in ancient Rome, making them easily identifiable to their clients at a glance during those days (and nights) of debauchery in the Holy Roman Empire.

The ancient history of High Heeled Shoes

Mediaeval footwear ‘doldrums’

During the period between ancient times and the Renaissance, the Middle Ages, practicality was often the main concern. In those days both men and women wore ‘pattens’, these were wooden soles that could be attached below the wearers ordinary shoes. This helped to keep them away from the detritus of mediaeval life and thus relatively clean!

The Turks wore ‘Chopines’, which were early platform shoes, around the 15th century. These took off across Europe too, and some could extend to over 30 inches! These shoes really were of no use when actually walking, as they needed the help of servants to aid them if they wanted to totter about!

A High Heeled Renaissance!

In relatively recent times, women’s platform shoes are considered to have evolved into ‘High Heels’ in Renaissance Venice, amongst its multitude of prostitutes, just as in ancient Rome!

These shoes ranged up to twelve or even eighteen inches in platform height, giving these ladies a seductively sensuous gait for their customers to admire and a knee up against their competitors.

Italian high fashion in shoes emerges

So it was in this way that Italian fashion had one of its earliest stirrings, these high heels became popular amongst the Venetian aristocrats first and then across the whole of modern day Italy and indeed, overseas across Europe and the Ottoman empire itself.

For ladies that could afford them, they showed that they were of money and hence did not need to work; they were often ‘kept’ ladies, relying on their menfolk for financial support. Curious as the support they received from their heels was often somewhat wobbly and precarious!

French Pompadour Heels

 In France, high-heeled shoes also became fashionable both amongst men and women of the 16th Century. One early adopter of this emerging fashion trend was the French King Louis XIV. Being French, they called the shoes the French Heel or Pompadour Heel, named after King Louis XV’s mistress, Madame de Pompadour. Louboutins had their roots during the reign of this King too.

This style of shoe rapidly moved further afield across Europe from its Parisian origins, with the ladies of Europe all to be seen tottering about at glitzy balls and parties in them.

The Illusion of Longer Legs

The allure of these high heels is that they give the wearer the illusion of longer legs, making them, in theory, more attractive to the opposite sex.

It is for this reason that they have become such both a fashion icon and statement, littering the catwalks of the world right up to the present day.

Stiletto Heels origins

The famed French fashion designer Christian Dior reinvented the French Shoe after the Second World War by raising the height of the heels of flat court shoes and adding stylish embellishments and trims to them.

Dior’s celebrated French shoe designer, Roger Vivier, is widely held to have actually invented the modern day stiletto heel by using plastic technology to create a strong yet slender heel that he called the needle. This gave Stilettos their alluring sexy yet minimalistic look.

You can still see, in the design of modern high heels, such as those at Essex Glam, that they all owe their design and origins to the ancients from the Greeks to the Venetians!

One last word, be careful how you go in this style of shoes ladies!

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