Essay on History of High Heels

Words: 1164
Pages: 5

High-Heeled Shoes

“Give a girl the right shoe and she can conquer the world” –Marilyn Monroe

Shoes in general have typically served as markers of gender, class, race, and ethnicity. No other shoe, however, has gestured toward leisure, sexuality, and sophistication as much as the high-heeled shoe. Often the last piece of an ensemble or the final detail to be added to an outfit, the high-heel is a wardrobe staple that has come a long way! The high-heel has transformed from a measure of class and wealth, to a serious fashion statement.

Egyptian murals tell us that butchers were the originators of high heels, using them to walk through scores of dead animals without getting insides on their outsides.
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While high heels were significantly popular in the late nineteenth century, early twentieth-century women demanded more comfortable, flat-soled shoes-- that is until the roaring twenties when higher hemlines encouraged visible, elaborate, high, slender Louis heels.
The Depression during the 1930s influenced Western shoe fashion as heels became lower and wider. In the 1940s, luxury items were in short supply due to WWII and high heels tended to stay moderately high and thick.
French designer Christian Dior collaborated with shoe designer Roger Vivier, developing the Louis shoe with a narrow heel called a stiletto in 1950. Stilettos were often banned from public buildings because they caused physical damage to the floors (West 1993).

As the feminist movement gained momentum, stilettos were seen as distasteful and high heels implied insignificance and allowed sexual stereotyping by men. Consequently, heels dropped and thickened, and soon low-heeled shoes with square toes replaced the stiletto (Gamman 1993). During the late 1960s frustration with contemporary times and anxiety about the future led young people to embrace the hippie culture, which re-introduced the platform shoe.

Experimentation of drugs, sex and fashion generated huge popularity in platform shoes during the 1970s. Attention craving men and women would dress to shock, wearing platform shoes with crazy psychedelic swirls