Embodying a function-oriented design aesthetic and, at the same time, a preservation conducive to hyper-feminine appeal, women's shoes offer countless stylistic opportunities for anyone who wears them.
Let's say it. If “Men Prefer Blondes” were filmed nowadays, Marilyn Monroe would probably sing “Shoes are a girl's best friend”.
Contrary to the past, in the women's wardrobe it is easy that the number of shoes is significantly higher than the jewelry's one.
Well yes, initially created with the simple function of protecting the foot, over the years the shoe has become the accessory capable of highlighting any look and often, also the one on which invested the most.
The boundless love for shoes, contrary to what one might think, is not a recent fact. It is hypothesized that the pioneer of this obsession was the wife of Henry II of France, Catherine de 'Medici who, in the mid-sixteenth century, began wearing high heels, until then reserved exclusively for men.
Her Majesty was madly in love with them as they made her appear taller and skinnier, which is the main reason why we still adore them today!
Indeed, the structure of a women's heeled shoe immediately gives a different posture: the chest straightens, the legs seem longer and tapered and the lower back lifts. What can I say, not bad as an effect for a simple accessory!
The real birth of women's heeled shoes dates back to around the 12th century, when courtesans used to wear women's shoes without laces with a pronounced tip, the same ones that will later give birth to the pumps.
During the 30s of the last century, jazz music and the prohibitionism of the time forced Coco Chanel to put on the market low-heeled pumps (today known as "kitten heel"). These then reach the peak of their success when they appear at the foot of the style icon par excellence of that era: Audrey Hepburn. From that moment on, there was no woman who did not have at least one pair in her shoe cabinet.
This trend was then resumed in the 80s and 90s when, with the increase of working women, fashion houses such as Giorgio Armani and Fendi satisfied the need for an elegant but comfortable women's shoe that perfectly matched the fashionable suits. in that moment.
Instead, it happened in the 1950s when the Hollywood sirens like Marilyn Monroe and Jayne Mansfield launched the fashion of stilettos.
At the beginning of that decade, a new technology called "extrusion" brings about a not just evolution in the field of fashion: the birth of pencil-thin heels that magically still managed to support a woman's weight. And the gold medal for this women's shoe goes to the French designer Roger Vivier. A few years later, the Italian shoemakers were the first to reinforce this type of heel by inserting an iron rod in the center, making it possible to reach heights of 12 cm. This style then found a new life in the 70s thanks to the stiletto heels by Manolo Blanhnik who, especially in the 90s, found themselves on the most famous red carpets at the feet of almost all actresses.
Similar to the pumps for the opening on the instep, the ballet flats are instead differentiated by the total (or almost) absence of the heel and have always been a symbol of princely and fairy femininity.
Popular as early as the nineteenth century (then called slippers), they actually started a century earlier when dance, then an art reserved for the nobility, was performed with heeled shoes which, in addition to being uncomfortable, limited their movements. The first who dared to modify her ballet shoes, by removing the heel, was Marie Camargo, a French dancer. From that day on, progressively, all dancers began to want more comfortable shoes. Despite the limitations and problems that the heels plagued, it is still a fairly slow change, which became definitive only at the beginning of the 1900s thanks to what will later be considered the reference prototype for dance shoes.
In the 1930s, however, the shoemaker Jacob Bloch began making dance shoes with more resistant materials, but it was 1947 that saw the birth of ballet flats as we know them today, thanks to Rose Repetto. She is the founder of the homonymous brand still in vogue today, in fact she makes a pair for her son of her, the dancer Roland Petit who needed an even more robust version at the time.
Finally, these shoes reach the peak of popularity in the 1950s, when Repetto herself created an ad hoc model for Brigitte Bardot in the movie "And God created woman", while in the same years, Audrey Hepburn chooses for her films, Salvatore Ferragamo's ballet flats.
A model of women's shoes very similar to the ballerina, on the other hand, is the Mary Jane, which is also composed of a slipper structure, but differs in the classic strap that crosses the instep. Her story dates back to the early 1900s and derives from that of a comic book character, the Mary Jane from the Buster Brown strip in the New York Herald, famous for wearing only this shoe model. Initially, they were shoes produced only for schoolchildren until the advent of the 1960s, when the latest generations choose to be inspired by the look of little girls inspired above all by their appearance at Twiggy's feet by the idea of Mary Quant. Since then, even French haute couture designers such as Yves Saint Laurent and Dior have introduced the Mary Janes in their collections, often in patent leather, with solid low heels and tapered toes.
These shoes then became memorable in the 90s when Courtney Love in her battle to subvert the much-loved looks of the 60s, chose them as a symbol of vindication of her sexuality and her appearance.
This creates a real upheaval in the fashion world and sees clothing brands such as Marc Jacobs and Comme des Garçons, as well as shoe brands such as Manolo Blahnik and Jimmy Choo, adapt to this trend in their collections.
Another model of women's shoe that leaves the instep in this case partially uncovered are the loafers and can be of two types: soft or rigid. Initially a purely male shoe, today it is also an integral part of the female shoe rack. Soft, light and without a rigid sole, the loafers are the comfort made in the shoe par excellence and for this reason from their beginnings they had immediate success especially among the hippies of the sixties. The rigid model, also called Penny Loafer, became famous at James Dean's feet in the 1950s, combined with a leather jacket. In leather, without laces, it is a casual shoe with a typical U-shaped stitching on the upper and is equipped with a rigid leather sole and heel. Those shoes were then imitated in the nineties by Michael Jackson who chooses to personalize them with a pair of white socks for the video "Off the Wall" and "Thriller". From there he spent very little time before seeing a pair of Gucci loafers on the catwalk which, still today, is one of the house's flagship products.
The versions that we currently find on the market can have a rubber sole in both models, both rigid and soft, but what is never missing is the typical visible stitching that is now a hallmark of the loafers.
According to some studies on foot reflexology, women's shoes have become an object of desire also because each part of the foot reflects a part of the body. For example, if the heel represents the pelvic area and the root represents the brain, wearing a nice pair of Birkenstock sandals should be equivalent to a total body cuddle! Initially hated by the followers of fashion, the first model that was marketed by the German brand in the 60s, was instead received with great fury by the hippies and housewives of the time. Today, however, that same model, characterized by the typical insole that perfectly follows the anatomical shapes of the foot, has inspired many luxury brands.
Starting from the New York catwalks where these sandals are transformed into slippers according to Zimmermann's vision, to the Italian ones where they take on the structure of a single band as happens for the Valentino Garavani slide. Perfect to combine with caftan or tunic dresses, once worn on your feet you will immediately feel like you are on vacation.
Sandals are probably the most primitive shoes in the world, it seems that the first traces of their existence date back to 7000 BC. but the apex of their fame is reached thanks to the ancient Romans. At that time the first to wear them were the soldiers of ancient Rome, who were divided between simple soldiers and officers and differed according to the lacing of the shoe: low to the ankle for the former and high up to the knee for the latter. .
Today this shoe can take on many souls, from the rock one like the model to the slave model of Bottega Veneta sandals, to the romantic one like those proposed in the Miu Miu shoes selection.
Taking a leap forward in time, it was in the nineties and more precisely in the film "Sex and The City" that these women's shoes became the symbol of elegance. Similar to the flat ones, these heeled sandals have an extra touch of glamor, thanks to the thin heel, usually stiletto and the straps that cross the instep.
In reality, these women's shoes are already starting to appear in the theaters of ancient Greece where, to be seen better from the back rows, the actors had the soles of their sandals affixed to the soles; while the women of the sixteenth century used to wear “chopine”, shoes that could reach up to 60 cm in height.
In more recent times it was Salvatore Ferragamo who made two types of sandals very similar to chopinas, using cork soles instead: from here we have the birth of wedges and platform shoes. The latter usually have an exaggeratedly thick leather sole and can be both with a sole joined between the toe and heel and a separate platform. What is certain is that these shoes have and at the same time give a truly eccentric look!
The first thing that comes to mind, thinking of platform shoes, is the discomusic craze of the seventies that influenced not only fans of the genre, but also rock-glam stars such as Elton John and David Bowie who wore platforms in their performances. 15 centimeters high. It is impossible not to recognize them, it is precisely those shoes that, in 1993, due to their height of 25 cm, were responsible for the dizzying fall of Naomi Campbell, which took place on the catwalk during the Vivienne Westwood fashion show in Paris.
Accidents aside, happiness is the key word that distinguishes this women's shoe. Since they became the symbol of the Spice Girls, over the years they have been shelved in the closets and then peeped back at our feet. Currently they have been re-proposed not only as boots, as in the case of the platform sandals by Marni, Gianvito Rossi and Dries Van Noten.
Wedges, on the other hand, usually have a thick cork sole as in the models proposed by Giuseppe Zanotti, while lately Prada is launching reinterpretations with a patent leather sole. However, while in the platform the heel is obtained by carving the sole, in this case the sole remains united, lower in front and higher behind, so that the heel is raised.
A sole similar to that of wedges is also found in espadrilles, although they are often offered in the variant with a low sole. These women's shoes, typically summer, are similar to a sandal in the heeled version and to moccasins in the flat version and in both cases, the upper is made of cotton canvas. Espadrilles are perfect to combine with a light dress or a pair of shorts as happens in the latest collections by Kenzo and Saint Laurent.
Another evolution of the sandal, which however will be slow to arrive in the women's wardrobe is the sabot.
This model of women's shoe was in fact forbidden to women until the 17th century, as it was considered very scandalous because it exposed a part of the foot. Open at the heel, the sabots were extravagant shoes, made of silk and satin and often decorated with very rich embroidery. Today the sabot have been relaunched in 2.0 mode and renamed mules. I can have a flat sole or a heel of different heights and widths and the upper can be opened only on the heel or also on the toe. A modern example of this shoe is Amina Muaddi's mules which not only relaunch the sabot, but also the spool heel, with the characteristic hourglass shape so loved by King Louis XV.
An alternative to mules is definitely the slingback, a shoe characterized by an ankle strap that embraces only the back of the foot, from the sides to the back of the heel. Elegant shapes, high quality materials and sophisticated colors make Aquazzurra slingback the perfect shoe for every moment of the day. Versatile and refined, they are the perfect addition to the wardrobe of the sophisticated and modern woman.
In the immense and varied multitude of women's shoes, boots cannot be missing, which from a purely male shoe has now become the obsession of the female shoe cabinet.
Unlike other models seen so far, the boots have an almost recent history. In fact, they date back to the 17th century when they were first worn by soldiers, as they are suitable for covering the most difficult terrains.
During the Second World War, however, the classic boots are transformed into combat boots: laced boots with eight eyelets and a rubber lug sole. In modern times, these become an indispensable element of every wardrobe when, an English company specialized in footwear and much loved in the world of fashion and music, launches a model that will mark the history of this type of shoes, we are talking about Dr. Martens boots. From then on, there won't be a ska, rock, grunge and punk fan who doesn't have at least a couple of them. At the feet of women, this model will arrive in the 90s thanks to the princesses of "garage rock", one above all, Courtney Love who will give a rather aggressive touch to her look by wearing just a pair of combat boots.
Women's combat boots today have been re-proposed in various heights, from the ankle to the knee, like Prada combat boots, but those that have recently made their way onto the catwalks all over the world are those models in thick leather, without laces and with platform sole that we find among the proposals in a more classic version as happens for Bottega Veneta up to the more streetwear ones as for the Balenciaga boots.
The Sixties, on the other hand, will make women's boots one of the symbols of disco music. In that decade they were called Go-Go Boots and the first to launch them was André Courrèges inspired by the climate of great energy of that time. The first American nightclub, “Wishkey A Go-Go” shocked everyone by including in its show dancers in patent leather boots and miniskirts who danced to the rhythm of “These Boots are Made for Walking” by Nancy Sinatra. I let you imagine the crowds at the shoe stores after that event!
Today, this model is an integral part of the Gucci 70s mood, but at the same time we cannot fail to mention the more modern version of these boots: the Tabi by Maison Margiela, which combines the classic shape of the Go-Go Boots with the cut of the tip that is inspired by traditional Japanese footwear, in an avant-garde reinterpretation, which fully captures the rebellious spirit of the maison.
The history of boots, albeit short, includes a wide range of models starting with cowboy boots (or camperos, Texan boots). This boot arrived in Mexico thanks to the Spanish conquistadors and from there it spread to the United States, especially to Texas and Kansas where the shoemakers created the version designed specifically for the herdsmen who traveled with their cattle the tracks that connected the two states. In the 1920s and 1930s, cowboy boots became a fashion item thanks to films and radio broadcasts about the Wild West. But it was in the 1950s, when rodeos became a popular form of entertainment and country music began to be heard by all, that the popularity of Texan boots skyrocketed.
Part of this rise was also thanks to their use in various Hollywood films. On the one hand a fascinating Marylin Monroe, on the other the legendary John Travolta, immortalized with Texan boots on their feet, was a real bomb in terms of marketing, such that even today, these shoes are among our favorites in the wardrobe. Symbol of a tough look, the camperos became in the 80s the best option for the clubbers of Studio 54 to be able to dance comfortably all night long. With the arrival of the new century, however, cowboy boots underwent a cruel devaluation due to artists and pop stars who wore unflattering versions of them in the early 2000s.
Luckily, rebel style icon Kate Moss brings credibility back to this boot, inspiring Texas native Tom Ford to reinvent it for haute couture. Today, the proposals vary from the more classic ones such as Isabel Marant Texas boots while Casadei reinterprets them with fine and perforated leathers and Givenchy turns to extreme femininity, maintaining its shape, but adding a higher heel.
Other women's shoes that made their entry along with the pumps in the 1950s were the stiletto heel boots.
Born with an aggressive soul, especially those in patent leather such as Saint Laurent boots (Naomi Campbell's favorites), today they are also made of soft leather, making them more versatile and tame also suitable for daytime outfits thanks to the use of soft or neutral colors like Sergio Rossi's boots.
Another real craze towards women's shoes is that of sneakers.
Born in the sixteenth century, it is among all the shoe that undergoes major evolutions especially by brands that over the years have invested a lot in terms of materials such as Nike sneakers that have always been the highest performance ones especially for the world of competitive sport.
With the advent of subcultures, this shoe becomes the ultimate expression of every style. Here will appear a nice pair of Vans at the feet of the skaters, as well as a pair of Converse for all those followers of grunge music in love with the legendary Kurt Cobain.
In recent years, however, with the birth of the streetwear style, many sports brands such as Adidas or Reebok have succumbed to this trend by offering ad hoc sneakers for everyday life. This phenomenon does not remain indifferent even to the largest fashion houses. In fact, the Prada, Gucci and Balenciaga sneakers satisfy not only the male audience, but also the female fans of this trend, creating ad hoc models often through collaborations that gradually give an increasingly glamorous touch to these shoes, making them truly fascinating and hyper-feminine.
In short, what more can I say? On SHOPenauer you will find a multitude of women's shoe collections all united by one goal: to make you fall in love!