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Wednesday, September 9th, 2009

A Short History of Heels: Why Flats are the Footwear of the Proletariat

Louis XIV- Hyacinthe Rigaud 1701 - and shoes

Louis XIV and his royal red heels

It’s true.  Flats are the footwear of the bourgeois and the proletariat.  And I’m not just saying that because they’re far more comfortable to wear at work than heels.  Indeed, I used to think of my favorite flats as a personal fashion bargain.  I would think to myself, “I’m trading a little bit of fashion fierceness for a whole lotta comfort.”  Never one to kill herself for fashion, I saw my flats as a sign of my own laid-back approach to life. My, how my approach to flats has changed since I learned about the history of heels.

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Monday, July 27th, 2009

Espadrilles: A Historical Legacy of Natural Elegance

Deerskin Moccassin with grass lining from Arnold Research CaveDid you know that modern espadrilles are related to shoes Native Americans were wearing over 8,000 years ago?  Espadrilles are shoes with cloth uppers and rope soles.  According to the journal Science, some of the 8,000-year-old shoes from the Arnold Research Cave in Missouri resembled espadrilles, in that they were woven from tough, fibrous plants.  Leather was also used in some specimens, including the one shown here.

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Tuesday, July 21st, 2009

Too Many Shoes? Go Miniature!

Photo taken at the Maryhill Museum of Art.Seeing the incredible exhibit of Theatre de la Mode fashions at the Maryhill Museum of Art has me thinking more and more about fashion as art.  Personally, I choose comfort if given the choice between killer fashion and killer pain, but I’m beginning to see why some women strap on incredibly fierce (and incredibly uncomfortable) shoes for a few hours now and then.  (Call me a dork if you will, but I don’t encourage it! Wearing poorly fitting shoes, especially for long stretches, definitely causes foot health problems.) Miniature shoes offer all of the art of fierce heels–without any of the pain. Today, I’m exploring the world of miniature shoes, both from the Theatre de la Mode exhibit and the many websites that offer collectible miniature shoes.

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Tuesday, July 7th, 2009

Haute Couture in Hard Times: The Theatre de la Mode

A New York Times article titled “Haute Couture Faces Uncertain Times” summarizes the challenges the exclusive circle of Haute Couture designers face in these days of economic difficulty.  Apparently, for the lavishly rich, paying up to $30,000 for a masterpiece of a dress was more justifiable before the economy tanked. Now, designers like Christian Lacroix are filing for bankruptcy.  Some designers have braved these rough economic seas by scaling back at Fashion Weeks, offering more mid-priced merchandise, and hosting Haute Couture shows in house.  Still, this isn’t the first time that the fashion world has been forced to get creative in the face of economic instability.  In fact, compared with the designers in Paris following WWII, today’s designers seem downright spoiled.  A recent visit to an exhibit called Theatre de la Mode at the Maryhill Museum of Art in Maryhill, WA, increased my appreciation for the creativity and determination of post-war European designers.

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Tuesday, May 26th, 2009

What do shoes today tell us about tomorrow?

QueenI read an interesting article last week called “Shoeconomics.” The author interviewed Elizabeth Semmelhack, curator of a Toronto shoe museum who also published a book about the history of heels. The premise of the article is basically about answering the question, “Can the heels of today tell us about the economic conditions of tomorrow?” Surprisingly, the two seemingly unrelated topics, well, aren’t unrelated.

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Tuesday, March 17th, 2009

Shoes for St. Patrick’s Day

How are you faring in the St. Patrick’s Day color contest? Did you remember to incorporate the bit o’ green in your ensemble today? If not, how about blue? Since the original color associated with St. Patrick was a deep blue, you could argue that a spot of blue earns you pinch-free privaleges.  In fact, the modern greening up on March 17th is thought to be rooted in the phrase “the wearing of the green.” During the Irish Rebellion of 1798, pinning “the green”–a shamrock–to your clothing was a symbol of rebellion against the British crown.

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