High Heels

 

 

 

Stiletto, wedge, cone, prism; if you are a woman you know these are various types of high heels.  You would also know that a good pair of heels can make you feel elegant, slender and very glamorous.  But did you know these elegant shoes actually have a long and remarkable history to them?


The history of high heels can actually be traced back to Egypt, 3500BC, where murals on walls show upper class citizens wearing heels for ceremonial purposes.


However, it wasn’t until the 16th century that high heels were properly invented.  It was in 1533, when Catherine de Medici decided to wear heels on her wedding day to Henry II (future King of France) as she was quite short and wanted to appear much taller.  It is said that Catherine de Medici is the original inventor of the high heel, setting the rage in Paris.


Heels, which became very popular in the French Court among wealthy men and women and quickly spread to other parts of nobility, were seen as a dividing line between classes.


It remained that only the rich wore heels for quite some time, and even in the early 1700s, Louis XIV (King of France) wore very high heels, often up to five inches, with decorative patterns such as miniature battle scenes.  It was Madame de Pompadour who helped Louis popularize high narrow heels – referred to as either the Louis or the Pompadour heel.


The heeled shoe was quickly banned after the French Revolution when Napoleon came to power during the late 18th – early 19th century as he wanted everyone to appear equal.  Because the heel was something that rich people used, many didn’t want to be linked to the shoe.  It wasn’t until the roaring twenties when hemlines became much shorter that the heel regained its full glory.


Both the ’30s and ’40s were tough times, so the heel became more moderate, with lower and wider heels.  At the same time, Hollywood gave the heel a new edge with many actresses wearing sparkly and glittery heels which challenged the traditional French look.


The ’50s and ’60s saw a revival of very high heels with Christian Dior magically inventing the stiletto.


The emerging feminist movement in the ’70s did a lot to change perceptions on how the heel was viewed.  Many women stopped wearing heels as it was claimed that wearing them indicated the sexual stereotyping by men.  However, this theory lost favor in the ’80s with the invention of power dressing.  Heels were brought back to the catwalk with Manolo Blahnik’s shoes making a huge impact.  And?  The world has never looked back.





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