Monday, 19 December 2016


Zsa Zsa Gabor (1917-2016)

Andy Warhol, Crazy Golden Slippers 1957 - Zsa Zsa Gabor

From The Historialist

Saturday, 17 December 2016

If You Wait Long Enough....

Finally, 51 years after the most perfect boots in the world appeared in that excellent book, the Ladybird edition of The Elves and The Shoemaker, you can now buy a reasonable approximation.

The Elves and the Shoemaker (1965)

PERFECT BOOTS (especially for going to school in).

Esmerelda Boots by Rayne - pretty good. 9 out of 10

Vanity boots by Hotter - surprisingly funky. 8 out of 10

Monday, 12 December 2016

Slippers for Christmas

Daniel Green slippers were as ubiquitous in the 30s,40s and 50s as LED torches and Ipads today.

December 1930

Pale Blue slipper

December 1939

Ruched Slingback

Mid 40s

Chinese Slipper

Red slippers 1950s

Chrysanthemum mule

Wednesday, 7 December 2016


Gold party shoes, there's nothing quite so indicative of the Christmas party season.

Gold silk with steel beads 1870s

Gold kid and fabric, French c1930

Statement platforms, American c1945

Gold brocade by Roger Vivier for Christian Dior c1960

Alexander Wang rose gold pumps 2015?

Rayne embroidered gold leather 2016

Jimmy Choo Sandal 2013

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

The Louis Heel

An early 18th century style originating in France and then called the Pompadour. It went through several refinements until it fell out of favour around the time of the French revolution.
It was reintroduced in the 1870s, renamed the louis and remained in fashion until about 1930. There have been several revivals since.
They were made of wood and covered either in fabric or leather or sometimes just painted until the 1920s when celluloid studded with rhinestones made an appearance.

English embroidered leather c1780-90, sturdy and sensible

Silk with a slim 'Italian' heel that supports the arch

Silk wedding shoes c1886, English

Gold kid with a steep arch to shorten the foot, 1880-90

Hellstern Paris 1920s

Delman USA c1935

Manolo Blahnik 1995

Sunday, 6 November 2016


Hello Chief.

Technology began to play a part in the construction of shoes in the early 50s with the development of the stiletto heel using a thin spike of metal to obtain ulitmate slimness.
By the end of the 60s heels came in all shapes or famously there were shoes with no heels at all but none of them went so far as Maxwell Smart's shoe phone.

Get Smart satirised the TV spy genre, itself set off by the success of the Bond films. No self respecting TV spy was without his homing transmitter hidden in the heel of his shoe (or suicide pill). Needless to say the shoe was only worn when the story called for Smart to answer the phone, like James Bond's cars overloaded with guns, ejector seats, rocket launchers and oil slicks, there was no room for the engine - or foot. However Smart's main problem with the device was getting the operator to put him through.

Agent 86 Maxwell Smart

Maxwell receives a call - YouTube

Friday, 4 November 2016

Rayne Spotting 3: The Avengers 1968

Rayne continued to provide shoes for The Avengers show. These gold glitter mules worn by Tara King in a publicity still for the series also appeared the the episode SPLIT. She carries them into Steed's apartment in the tag scene and the logo is easily seen.

John Steed & Tara King for The Avengers 1968

Saturday, 29 October 2016

Style Guide: Ghillies

An open top laced style of ancient origin. Originally probably made from a single piece of leather which was drawn over the top of the foot and laced in place. This prevented their loss in bogs or on difficult terrain. Now associated with Scottish traditional dress and highland dancing. They may also be brogued which is another technique useful when travelling over wet ground.

Reproduction of iron age shoes

Scottish dancing shoes

Ladies gold leather boots c1918

Stylised ladies ghillies with peeptoe c1940

Ankle boots by Rayne 2016

Grey suede heels c2015

Sunday, 24 July 2016

Shoe Folklore

The Cobbler

Although most dictionaries still list cobblers as being menders of shoes, common usage has twisted their role to being makers of them. The meaning of the word changed in the mid twentieth century, originally shoemakers were known as cordwainers. The cordwainers established a guild in the medieval period and woe betide any cobbler who overstepped his brief.

Historically shoes were an expensive item which warranted repair so cobblers patched and soled and latterly re-heeled shoes, these days very few people bother to have more than new heel tips put on their shoes hence the rise of the heel bar.

The often visible nature of the cobblers art gave rise to several idiomatic phrases such as;
Cobbled together meaning made badly of anything to hand or
Load of old cobblers (or simply Cobblers!) meaning rubbish or that the person was telling a tall story.
Let the cobbler stick to his last meaning stick with what you know.

Mending in World War Two
A rubber Philips sole has been added as a preventative measure and only a quarter of the heel has been replaced to conserve materials.

1960s. This pair has had the whole heel replaced not just the tip. Judging by the condition of the rest of the shoe which has been reglued where the crocodile has cracked they were obviously a much loved pair.

Saturday, 2 July 2016

Rayne Spotting 2: The Avengers 1965

Rayne is closely associated with Diana Rigg's character Emma Peel in the Avengers. They made several pairs of black and white shoes and boots to complement John Bates's costumes for the second half of the 1965 b&w series.
As is usual with TV feet are often cut off the bottom of the screen, so you never get to see them very closely.
Here however Emma has to change her shoes due to the plot - Steed has crashed his car and they must walk to the party in the episode. The Hour That Never Was. Shot July 1965, aired November 1965.

Emma sits on the running board of Steed's Bentley to change shoes for boots

Colour production still.

Saturday, 25 June 2016

Style Guide: Dolly Shoes

Dolly shoes are flat slip on courts with an ankle strap fastened by a button or buckle. they have a differennt history to ballerina flats.

Child's dolly shoes by Marshall & Snelgrove 1930s

The origin of this style is thought to stem from the French Doll manufacturer Jumeau who began business in the 1840s.

Bebe Jumeau doll's shoes, Victorian

Nowadays of course you can be any age to wear them

Silver glitter dolly shoes with a heel by Prada

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Shoe Folklore

Down at Heel: To be poor

Recorded in 1732 in William Darrell's A gentleman instructed in the conduct of a virtuous and happy life

Shoes and shoe leather were expensive, for the poor repairs were costly and as they often only had one pair of shoes, difficult to manage.

The phrase well heeled may have arisen as an antidote to this however there are other theories on the origin of that - see

Louis XIV (1701) by Hyacinthe Rigaud (again).

Sunday, 19 June 2016

Joyce of California: 1940-1949

In a decade where comfort was the number one concern of most women, Joyce made the grade.

December 1940
November 1940
September 1941
September 1941
JAnuary 1942
May 1943
May 1944
August 1944
January 1945
August 1946
March 1946
December 1947
December 1947
August 1948
July 1948
October 1949

This article first appeared on Vintage Chic. 29 June 2010