Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Shoes, Glorious Shoes, from 1680-2010

Tuesday, January 25, 2011
Susan reporting:

As you've likely noticed from our weekly Breakfast Links, we spend a good deal of time prowling the internet in the name of research. We're history nerds, and we can't help ourselves.

Every so often, though, we stumble across a site that absolutely stuns us. Combine a wealth of information with detailed photographs, and all devoted to one of our favorite topics – shoes! – and we HAVE to share this site with you.

Part of what makes this so exciting is that it doesn't come from one of the usual museums in London, Paris, Toronto, or New York. No, the Shoe Icons site is based in Moscow, and the owners are Shoe-icons Publishing. Their collection was launched in 2003, with the aim of supporting a series of books and other products on the history of shoes as well as creating this wonderful on-line shoe museum.

From the towering mules of the 18th c. to the spangled flats of the Regency, from Victorian half-boots to Jazz Age t-straps: they're all here. There are also sections devoted to modern shoes, searchable by designer, as well as ethnic shoes from around the world. Included, too, are shoe-related advertisements, fashion illustrations, catalogues, and accessories like button-hooks and buckles.

To be sure, there are a few quirks (captions that appear in Russian), but the detailed way that all the shoes are photographed makes comparisons (or browsing) a joy.

Think of it as a Zappos for historical shoes....

Top: Baroque mule with metallic embroidery and red leather heels. France, 1680-1720.
Middle: Flat silk slipper, decorated with floral embroidery and paillettes, 1795-1810.
Middle: Blue silk high-button boots, 1870.
Bottom: T-Strap brocade with gold leather applique shoes, 1920s, Laird, Schober & Co.
All photographs from the Shoe Icons site.

8 comments:

American Duchess said...

Oh WONDERFUL! Thank you so much for posting this, for it is a resource that despite all my shoe-scavenging research I had not found. This will be very helpful for upcoming historical styles! Thank you!

Renate said...

Some fabulous shoes, indeed. They don't make shoes like this anymore, do they? :(

Anonymous said...

Totally, totally amazing! I want everything!

Jo Manning said...

Totally fab! There is a shoe museum in Toronto, too, I think. Bata Shoe Museum, or something like that. I ran into them when I was researching my biography of Grace Elliott. Never used them as an image source, though. They wanted too much money! You'd think they would have liked the mention...

Barb said...

You must visit the Bata Shoe Museum if you're ever in Toronto. In the meantime, check out their online exhibits. http://www.batashoemuseum.ca/

Alexa Adams said...

They actually do make shoes like this still (as a close look at the designers listed at Shoe Icons reveals), but you will pay an arm and a leg to get your hands on them. This is an issue close to my heart, as my family has been in the shoe business as manufacturers, importers, and retailers for four generations. My dad has dedicated his life to establishing European, couture shoe designer in the US. While the fashions have certainly changed, the craftsmanship lives on!

Susan Holloway Scott said...

Ahh, shoes....!

We've mentioned Toronto's fabulous Bata Shoe Museum here several times - how could we consider ourselves shoe-aholics and not? *g* Most recently I blogged about a famous pair of slap-soled shoes in their collection:

http://twonerdyhistorygirls.blogspot.com/2010/08/noisy-height-of-fashion-slap-sole-shoes.html

That pair aside, I'm always struck by how modern many of these shoes do look. That 17th c. mule at the top even features the island/rocker sole, smaller than the actual shoe, that's so popular today in platforms. The sequined regency slipper looks like many pointy-toe flats in stores now, as does the flapper's evening shoe. The main improvement that today's designers would make in the buttoned boot would be to put a zipper along the inside - but otherwise, those, too, could be worn today. Or at least I would....*g*

Theresa Bruno said...

Who doesn't like shoes? Ok maybe my 21 month old, but he's still young yet.

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