In the description of the Two Nerdy History Girls, Loretta and I promised shoes. Today, we deliver history AND shoes.
A quick flip through the humungo fall fashion magazines shows that platform shoes are with us once again. As the Nordstroms website proclaims with breathless authority, "From coquettish embellishments to sky-high platform heels, fall's latest booties soar to new heights!"
Not so fast, Mme. Nordy.
The 2009 models seem positively squat compared to these towering examples from 16th century Venice. Worn by the most exclusive courtesans in Europe, these sky-high mules were not only a way to set one's gorgeous self literally above mere mortal women, but they also made a dandy display of a courtesan's financial success. While the shoes themselves were expensive, as everyone knew, the real status came from the "accessories": the constant attendance of at least two servants to help the wearer keep her balance and carry her sweeping skirts. I wonder, too, how these women ever managed to maneuver in and out of gondolas without toppling into the canal, but then I suppose that's one more mysterious art of the courtesan that's been lost to history.