Saturday, September 22, 2007
Friday, September 21, 2007
Sunday, July 22, 2007
Influenced by women's emancipation movements like the suffragettes, social activities of women changed dramatically towards the end of the 19th century and in the beginning of the 20th century. Lastforms altered from straights to more elegant and easy fitting left and right lasts. Dancing became a public rage and plain low-cut shoes called "pumps" or "courtshoes" came with it, at first heel-less and later with heels. The most wanted execution was with a patent leather upper. After the First World War more and more materials and colours came into fashion, especially for evening and dance shoes likre the one shown with metal beads and rock-crystal ornaments for dancing the charleston.
After the French revolution in 1789 A.D. life in general altered completely. Shoes became less luxurious and more simple. In 1814 the sewing machine was invented, in 1840 the sole tacking machine. Shoes were made more and more in factories. Around 1830 ankle boots or "petit-boutons" replace ladies 18th century footwear. They were made on straight lasts with low heels and laces or elastic gussets on the instep or at the side. Around 1850 boots and heels became slightly higher again. These "bottines" mostly had a foot part of leather and a top part of textile and were closed by laces or buttons. Women's very long skirts were replaced by the crinoline and when women sat down, now their feet with a part of their ankles or legs became visible for the first time. The bottines enhanced the shape of those parts and shoes became a provocative garment enjoyed by men and understood by women.
Up to the 17th century shoes had been virtually identical for both sexes, although women wore theirs underneath long skirts. In the 18th century the difference between men's and women's footwear became more distinctive. Men increasingly wore boots and women were left with more decorative shoes with higher heels that made their feet look smaller. Women's shoes were made of fine silks and satins, richly embroidered in beautiful colours. Such shoes were hard to walk on and were meant primarily for indoor use. If a women had to go outside, pattens had to be fixed if conditions underfoot were poor. Pattens made shoes all flat at the bottom and walking a great distance became difficult if not almost impossible.
Around 1520 A.D. shoemakers began to reinforce soles with extra pieces of leather at the toe and heel parts. Sometimes pieces of cork were put in between at the heel end to make the bearer look taller. Around 1580 the first real heels were introduced. Styling changed to shoes with extended heel parts bound together on the instep with colourful laces, large and decorative bows or rosettes, made of silk and sometiomes jewelled. The search for elegant protection against the dirt of the roads continued and produced a shoe known as the "slap sole", whereby the sole was extended to the back and the high heel rested on it, thus preventing the heel from sinking into the dirt. Walking on such shoes produced a slapping sound. The development of the raised heel is probably the most momentous and far reaching change in shoe history.
In the transition period from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance around 1500 A.D. many political, religious and social changes took place. Shoes became rounder shaped again and more attention was paid to the protection of shoes against dirty roads and damage. The need to protect expensive footwear was already felt for the poulaines of the Gothic Age (1200 - 1420 A.D.). At first this problem was solved by the creation of pattens: wooden elevated clogs bound under the shoes to avoid direct contact with the roads. Around 1400 however, Spanish court ladies wore high stilt shoes probably influenced by Islamic "alcorques", which were shoes with high cork soles. In 1494 the "chopine" was born in Venice, Italy. These mules on very high platforms raised feet and skirts above the mud. They sometimes were so high and unstable that women had to be supported by their servants during walking.
By the 12th century, as a result of contact with the east through the crusades, men's shoe fashion became more pointed and was worn with a tight hose made of silk, velvet or soft leather. These shoes were called "crackows" or "poulaines" as at first it was thought the style originated in Krakow, Poland. They sometimes featured toes as long as 25 inches, whereby the longest ones were upheld by chains running up to the knee and fastened there with a knee strap. The poulaines were shaped by whale bone and stuffed with hemp or moss. Decorating was done by incisions, scraping or engraving. The length of the point referred to the importance of the bearer acoording to a system invented by a Mr. Poulain: half a foot length for ordinary people, one and a half for knights and two or more foot lengths for high nobility.
Charlemagne (742 - 814 B.C.) was the first ruler who started to protect the making of inland products by discouraging the import of luxurious goods like silk and goldleather from the Middle East. This resulted in the decline of luxurious footwear Byzantine style. Instead simple ankle boots similar to the one shown became common use, also combined with linen, woollen or leather leg covers which were held up by linen or leather straps like puttees. Linen cloth was also cut to leg shape and nailed to wooden hob nailed soles and upheld in the same way, thus creating the first boots called "estivaux" or in Italian "estivalia" and probably later in German "Stiefel". Leather was expensive and affordable only by the more well to do people. Toe shapes varied from round to more pointed ; heights from just below to just above the ankle.
The shoe shown here is a typical example of the bourgeois style of footwear that was introduced by the Etruscans (800 - 400 B.C.), who created the first shoes by refining the primitive idea of covering a foot by wrapping animal hides around it, into a prototype of the early brogue. This was sole-less, split at the instep and tied with a lace. It remained a standard shoe for peasants up to the time of Charlemagne (Carolus Magnus 742 - 814 A.D.) Although the shape and style was basic, the variations of the Byzantines in upper design and used materials were endless. Sheep, goat and chamois leather, silk, linen, embroidered with silver and gold thread or decorated with beads and jewellery.
The Etruscan culture (800 - 400 B.C.) was of great influence to the Romans. Etruscan metalwork later reached unequalled heights. The Romans combined Etruscan skills in their shoes like the one shown here in wood with bronze trimmings, using a leather hinge to make it flexible. The toe and heel parts of the innersole were hollowed out slightly for comfortable wear. This type of sandal was called "crepida" and in this luxurious execution only allowed to be worn by dignitaries. Much simpler versions, with brass or icon tacks nailed in the wooden outersole for durability, belonged to the daily outdoor wear of Roman men. Soldiers wore the same with heavy hob nails in the outsole and sometimes at the side of the sole to spur their horses. These sandals, called "caligae", had several leather straps to the upper to be tied around the ankle. Women had more freedom to decorate their crepidae with colours and jewellery. A lighter version with thinner soles and more closed uppers was known as "calceus".
Egyptian wall paintings show thong sandals with flat soles made of palm leaves or papyrus. This so-called "tatleb" initially was only worn by gods, pharaohs and other dignitaries, but later became common use. A footprint was made in wet sand to make the soles in the right size and shape. Straps were attached made of papyrus or untanned leather. Women decorated their slippers with various jewellery. These very practical slippers proved to be a perfect protection against rough terrain and burning hot sand. Pharaohs by that time had theirs made of solid gold. "Fashion" developed pointed or more squared shapes, upturned toe parts and braided sides.
Although leather was already known to the South American Chimú indians in the Bronze Age, for easy daily wear they braided simple sandals made from fibres of the yucca plant, belonging to the agavaceae (agave). These fibres were very flexible and strong as iron. The sharp pointed ends of the leaves were removed in such a way that the inner fibres of the leaves, which could reach a length of one meter, stayed attached to the point removed. This point was subsequently used as a needle and thread to fix uppers and soles together. The yucca plant was similar in use to papyrus in Egypt. It too produced writing paper and shoe making material like sisal.
* Stone Age * Until about 3000 B.C.
In the earliest times people went barefoot, a custom that continued for centuries, especially in warm regions and indoors. The first foot coverings were probably animal skins, which people of the Stone Age tied around their ankles in cold weather. Cave paintings dated between 15000 and 12000 B.C., found in Spain and France, show that cave dwellers tied animal skin around their feet for protection during hunting, in battle and in cold weather. Animal skins were soaked in streaming water for several days. Remaining fat and scraps of meat were scraped off and the hide was airdried in cool wind. Fresh animal brains were used to rub fat in the non-hair side to supple it. The hide was cut with sharp stones or the horn of deer antlers and tied with ropes of animal hair, grass or strands of animal hide.