"They finish the silhouette with a stroke of a pencil" announced Roger Vivier, when he created the first stiletto heel in 1954. The new heel gave height to women and immediately endowed gave them freedom, confidence and, above all, femininity, that was unfounded in this era, and made them remarkable, irresistible. Although the idea of raise shoes first made their appearance in 1st century BC, the stilettos are an invention of the 20th century. And this year the Maison celebrates the stiletto’s 65th birthday! To celebrate this occasion, take a trip down memory lane on the origins of these indispensable accomplices of the woman!
The Origin of Raised Shoes
During the Italian Renaissance, wearing raised shoes was a sign of nobility, power and wealth. Courtesans wore high-platform shoes, up to 60 cm, to prevent them from dragging their dress in the mud. In 1533, Catherine de Medici brought a pair from Florence, on the occasion of her marriage to the Duke of Orleans, and launched a fashion trend in the heart of France. In the 17th century, Mongolian riders also wore heels to better hold their feet in the stirrups.
The 18th Century - A Feminine and Masculine Flirtation
At the Court of the Sun King, heels were a distinction of the aristocracy, the higher they rose, the closer they were to heaven and supreme power. Those of Louis XIV were red to symbolize his authority. Worn by both men and women of nobility, they were part of the regalia and adorned with ribbons, loops set with precious stones and lace, reflecting the richness of its wearer. These caused men to turn away from heels and, under the reign of Louis XV, the heel became synonymous with feminine frivolity. Then the time of the French Revolution came and the new height was that of the ground as boots took over the landscape.
Heels – A Sign of Femininity and Freedom
In the 19th century, heeled shoes returned to the bourgeoisie, worn by these ladies in a reasonable height. Yet, it is at the end of this same century that they took a new symbolism, inspired by the dancers of French Cancan and the prostitutes who worshiped them. Revealing curves, associated with desire and sexuality, high heels became symbols of femininity. These were the first indications that heels will even go higher in the 20th century.
In the 1930s, the big actresses, icons with an enigmatic aura, crept into their shoes. They comforted women in the 40s, bringing a little lightness to their daily lives, accompanying them to go dancing. Over the decades, women became stronger, bolder, participating in events, and interested in the same activities as men. During this period of profound change, they remained feminine and expressed this by wearing shoes with steel heels.
Roger Vivier – Revolutionizing the Heel through Innovation
In 1954, Roger Vivier made heels lighter and more resistant than the previous ones in steel, thanks to the insertion of a metal rod in the wood – this was the birth of the stiletto as we know it today. Because of Monsieur Vivier’s invention, the stiletto made its way to runways and changed the fashion landscape forever.
In an instant, stilettos extend the silhouette, lengthen the leg and accentuate the voluptuous forms of a woman’s body. Tools of unstoppable seduction, they change the pace in the blink of an eye and give confidence to those who wear them. They are also objects of fantasy for some and continuously feed the imagination of designers and artists since its creation.
"I do not know who invented the stiletto but I can tell you that women owe him a lot." Marilyn Monroe
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