Origins of the High Essay

Submitted By sofiaberger
Words: 1046
Pages: 5

Origins of the High-Heeled Shoe

Dating back to 3500 BC, murals had been created of aristocracy wearing high platform shoes. Although the distinct inventor of the high-heeled shoe is not recorded, it is known that they play innumerable roles throughout history (Anderson, 2014). Some say that Egypt was responsible for the start of such a trend, using the high heel to distinguish the wealthy. In a more practical application, “shoes with extended heels were also worn by butchers who wished to keep their feet out of reach of the blood of the animals they slaughtered.” Ancient Greece and Rome are both notorious for following the same process that the Egyptians had- wearing heels as a form of hierarchy. Were avidly used in the Medieval Times; are covered in pattens to protect them from harsh walking conditions (“In Ancient Egypt”, 2008).

“Christian Louboutin shoes were famously inspired by a French royal and notable trendsetter of the high heel, King Louis XIV of France. He passed a law ensuring only members of his court could wear the red-soled heels he sported, making it easier for 17th century society people to recognize who was privileged and in favour with the King, and who was not–“ (“The History of High Heels”, 2013).

The sixteenth century took what appeared to be a modern twist on the high heel “when Catherine de Medici decided to wear heels on her wedding day to Henry II, a Duke and the future King of France. She was 14 and quite short (not more than 5 foot), so asked a cobbler to make her shoes that would make her appear much taller on her wedding day” (Hifashionsl, 2010).

The high heel eased away from being something that mainly men would wear, and became unisex attire. They slowly become more modern, fashionable, and artistic. To further the artistic potential of the high heel, the sewing machine came into play. This allowed for more designs, colours, and overall styles to be made (“The History of High Heels”, 2013). As time went on, it became imperative to boost the height of the heel in order to make the leg seem more refined and sexually desirable. (“In Ancient Egypt”, 2008).

Nearing the Victorian Era, the instep arch was introduced, in order to make women feel more feminine. Although invalid, the 5 inch heels were advertised for their health benefits. This resulted in high heels becoming a household item for many women.

“The 18th Century also saw heels becoming very controversial in America. The Massachusetts Colony banned women wearing them, saying that women used them to trap men, and anyone seen wearing them would be prosecuted as witches. The English Parliament also used this logic and treated women wearing heels as witches. Many critics at the time compared the high heel to the cloven hoof of the devil” (“Longer legs, sex appeal”, 2014). Throughout the 30’s and 40’s, they became much more moderate in height. It was not until the late 50’s that stilettos were created. Feminists became enraged by the attention that women received from wearing these shoes. Many protests were created against high heels at this time period (Kremer, 2013).

Visual Alterations Through Time

Starting with Egyptian heels; with a variety of platform roman sandals made of cork/ wood, the high heel began to develop. The Middle Ages allowed for high wooden soles (pattens) in order to keep feet away from the dirty streets. Around 1154, King Henry II wore pointed shoes, with silk lining (and wood) to hide his deformed toes. Knights began wearing curved pointed shoes for horse back riding- they kept their feet in the stirrups. In 1215, several kings and princes began wearing the heels up to 30 inches in length. 1533 was the year that modern high heels were created. They were initially of Italian origin, but made its way to the French court. Softer materials such as leather were introduced. Wood still remained a consistent material for the creation of the heels. Thread, cloth and leather allowed for a sturdy hold on shoes that…