Sunday, August 23, 2009

Shoes NOT Made for Walking

Sunday, August 23, 2009
Venetian shoes: taller Susan reports:

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 toVenetian shoes 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.

10 comments:

Tigercat said...

Love you Nerdy History Girls!
I have only one word to say about these shoes & that's TIMBER. My ankles hurt just looking at them.

Leslie Carroll said...

Love it! I always wanted to try on a pair of "chopines" and see what they felt like -- probably not so different from the radically high platforms in fashion this season. I've often wondered how the Venetian courtesans navigated all those little bridges and walkways in those heels -- or did they? Were the chopines the Venetian equivalent of "f***-me pumps" that are meant to be worn for seductive purposes only, in bedrooms or limos?

Susan Holloway Scott said...

I know, these do look dangerous...but in a good way.

Leslie, I wondered that, too, except that there are mentions by the scandalized of the courtesans tottering into church, so I'm guessing they wore them at least occasionally outside the bedroom. But like the "f***-me pumps", they do have that "I'm so slow I'm easy to catch" feel to them.

But I'm betting at least one hapless courtesan must have fallen from her shoes into the canal. If it happened to Naomi Campbell in platform shoes on the runway.....

Vanessa Kelly said...

Yikes! You could do some serious damage to yourself wearing those babies! Susan, I love the image of the courtesans tottering into church with their sky-high shoes. Well, there would be a lot of upper-class and wealthy men in church, so it would be a great place to be seen.

Thanks for another fab entry!

Christine Trent said...

Well, you've said that the courtesans fumbled their way into church on these towering pillars of death, so I'm guessing they wore them to do public pennance.

They look so awful that I can't imagine any other use for them. :)

Monica Burns said...

Love the post, and glad I can resist platforms. *grin* But tell me, am I the only one who found the slender wooden platform just a tres suggestive?? Ok, slap me for my mind going places maybe it shouldn't. *sigh*

Vanessa Kelly said...

Monica, Monica, Monica!

Hmmm, now that you mention it...

Monica Burns said...

ok, ok, but seriously weren't all fashion designers back then men?? I mean it just "stands" to reason that there might be a little bit of envy thrown into the whole subject matter. *shrug*

Ms. Lucy said...

Hi:) What a fantastic site you have! Although the Venetian shoes look dreadfully dangerous, I can still see the appeal they might have had...(must be in my roots or something;) Outrageous! Wonderful post-Thanks.
Lucy

Susan Holloway Scott said...

One of my favorite themes regarding history is that the more things change, the more they (really) stay the same. I can't resist posting the link to these sky-high examples from Nina Ricci's 2009 collection:

http://www.style.com/stylefile/2009/03/sparkle-and-fade-olivier-theyskens-most-likely-last-shoes-for-nina-ricci

Can you imagine what those shoe-crazed 16th c. courtesans would have given to have had a pair of these shoes-from-the-future?

 
Two Nerdy History Girls. Design by Pocket