From the Archives: Chronicles of the high-heel

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 Over the years, high-heeled shoes have evolved from Persian horse riders to the modern- day woman.

Genesis

 

High heels date far back to the 10th century in Persia (Modern-day Iran). The majority of them were horse-back riders. They noticed that their feet kept slipping from their stirrups thereby affecting their balance. So heels were invented. The first pair were only one-inch high.



 Egyptians were also known to wear platform gladiator sandals. Their butchers also wore heels to prevent staining their feet with offal blood.

"In 1599, Abbas sent the first Persian diplomatic mission to Europe - it called on the courts of Russia, Germany and Spain. A wave of interest in all things Persian passed through Western Europe. Persian style shoes were enthusiastically adopted by aristocrats, who sought to give their appearance a virile, masculine edge that, it suddenly seemed, only heeled shoes could supply" says William Kremer from BBC.

Heeled shoes were uncomfortable and therefore deemed impractical for every day life. Only the elite (upper class) could afford to wear shoes which you could practically do nothing in.

The idea was that if you could wear shoes that you could obviously not work in, you didn't need to do much, therefore you were well-off a.k.a rich. So heels became a status symbol in the 1600s, adopted by the aristocrats.

Eventually, the shoes spread to the lower class. Of course, the elite had to look for a way to distinguish themselves so they made the heels even higher. Therefore, the high-heel was born.




 Later on, women jumped on the trend, making heels a unisex thing. And the Men also had to be distinguished. Of course! They needed their Masculinity intact, so the styles started to differ. The male heels were designed to be sturdy block heels while the female ones were slimmer and designed to be dainty.

In the 18th century, men deemed heels as impractical and as at 1740, they abandoned them. (I personally feel that it was because heels were now associated with women).

In 1789, with the French Revolution, frivolousness and aristocracy died and heels along with them. Heels were out of demand and therefore, faded.

In 1860, high heels became popular for women again with the invention of the camera. Pornographers brought the trend back with a bang! They had their models pose nude with high heels on.

While lower heels were preferred in the late 60s and 70s, higher heels returned in the 1980s and 1990s.

Flash forward today, high-heels can be found in many a woman's wardrobe. They provide the lift (not necessarily pertaining to height) and the much needed confidence.

Controversy

When the trend came back, high heels weren't necessarily embraced with open arms. Since pornographers brought them back, there was a lot of controversy on the topic. Feminists argued that high-heels, invented by men, objectified women. Others deemed them impractical.



 "Women, in contrast, were seen as emotional, sentimental and uneducatable. Female desirability begins to be constructed in terms of irrational fashion and the high heel - once separated from its original function of horseback riding  - becomes a primary example of impractical dress." Says Semmelhack, author of Heights of Fashion.



Semmelhack continues that "In the 1630s you had women cutting their hair, adding epaulettes to their outfits...They would smoke pipes, they would wear hats that were very masculine. And this is why women adopted the heel - it was an effort to masculinise their outfits."
This, in my opinion, were their efforts to be taken more seriously.

Some people felt that high-heels were erotic adornments for women, so women who wore them were  seen as indecent or loose. The association with pornography, in my opinion, is totally responsible for this.

Doctors argued that high-heels were dangerous to the feet and caused serious damage.

Cool Facts



 ⦁    In the 80s and 90s when heels came back, designers around the world began to rethink them.  High-heels were used mainly for pictures as such, weren't much of a discomfort since you just wore them and took them off. Designers applied a lot of science to ensure comfort so they can be worn during daily activities. There were great improvements. Still one can only go some hours on heels- they are still painful.


 ⦁    In the early 1700s, France's King Louis XIV (The Sun King) would often wear intricate heels decorated with miniature battle scenes. Called "Louis heels,"  they were often as tall as five inches. The king decreed that only nobility could wear heels that were coloured red (Les talon rouge) and that no one's heels could be higher than his own. (History has it that he wasn't particularly tall.)



 

⦁    "Stiletto" is the Italian word for a small dagger with a slender, tapering blade.




 ⦁    Chopines, or platform shoes, were created in the 1400s, and were popular throughout Europe until the mid-1600s.
⦁    In 1791, the "Louis" high heels disappeared with the revolution and Napoleon banished high heels in an attempt to show equality.




⦁    Around 1660, a shoe maker named Nicholas Lestage designed high heeled shoes for Louis XIV. The resulting high "Louis heels" subsequently became fashionable for ladies. Today, the term is used to refer to heels with a concave curve and outward taper at the bottom similar to those worn by Madame Pompadour, Louis XV's mistress. (They are sometimes called "Pompadour heels".)

Final word

 I have noticed that a lot of things women wear today were first worn by men. It's a pattern.
Fashion is always evolving. Maybe someday men will wear high-heels and even now, they're wearing gladiators again.

I find it fascinating when People (particularly those in the professional and academic field) imply that fashion is for brainless people who care too much about their appearances. Fashion is steeped into life and is involved in almost everything we do. There is a deeper side to fashion although, many people fail to realize that.

Heels started as a practical thing, turned to a status symbol and now, they're just simple enjoyable fashion (even though there's still some controversy.) There are many angles to look at this topic from. Gender equality, health, science, masculinity, feminism and discrimination, to name a few.

Before one says a word, one's appearance has already spoken for one so I find it funny that people ridicule the very thing people judge you first by. You aren't supposed to judge a book by its cover but that's the reality.

Your thoughts?

I was very excited to write this article and have learnt a lot from my research. I hope you enjoyed it too.
Did you find the article interesting? Do you have any other cool facts to add? Would you like to suggest a correction? What would you like me to do a "From the Archives" post on next?
 Let me Know in the comments.

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8 comments

  1. Whoa! This is so cool and informative! Those chopine and egyptian heels look crazy!

    Bree
    Quirky, Brown Love

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hey Hey!!! (ˆ⌣ˆ)
    Your blog has been nominated for Creative bloggers award.
    Thanks for inspiring a lot of people.
    Here's a link to the nomination:

    https://chiquessence.wordpress.com/2015/01/25/52/

    I really love your blog

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you very much! I like your blog too :D

      Delete
  3. Replies
    1. Me neither. I just thought about it one day, did some research and when I found out men wore them first, I had to dig deeper. Hope you enjoyed the post!

      Delete
  4. This is very enlightening. Thanks for sharing.

    ImperfectVerbalista.com

    ReplyDelete

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