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Sunday, 12 March 2017

Platform shoe

Platform shoes were first worn during the Ancient era. They were used for raising the height of important characters in the Greek theatre and the prostitutes of ancient Greece wore platforms to make them easier to spot.

Platform shoes called chopines were famously worn by Venetian courtesans and patrician women in the 15th and 16th centuries. Called chopines, the heels of these wood or cork shoes sometimes reached 20 inches (50 cm), which resulted in the wearer often requiring the help of at least two servants to help them walk. The reason for their height was they protected both their shoes and dresses from mud and street soil.

Reconstruction of a 16th Century Venetian chopine. By Rama & the Shoe Museum in Lausanne 

Besides their practical uses, the height of the chopine became a symbolic reference to the cultural and social standing of the wearer; the higher the chopine, the higher their status.

Chopines often covered in leather, brocades and jewel covered velvets that matched the wearer’s dress.

In 1430, the height of chopines was limited by Venetian law to three inches, but this regulation was widely ignored.

Catherine de Medici, Italian wife of the Duke of Orleans and future Queen of France, commissioned a pair of heeled shoes for her first wedding in 1533 "'both for fashion, and to increase her stature"'.

In England, Charles II set the fashion for high heels after the Restoration, although men's heels got lower again throughout the 18th century.

Platform shoes enjoyed some popularity in the United States and Europe from the 1930s to the 1950s, Carmen Miranda was a particular devotee. The film star wore platforms due to the fact she was a mere 5ft tall and was key in popularizing platform shoes in the late 1930s.

Lucite platform shoes. By Tu Foto - originally posted to Flickr as Acrylic Heels

The biggest, and most prolonged, platform shoe fad in history began in the late 1960s. Many glam rock musicians wore platform shoes as part of their act in the 1970s. Elton John was renowned for his collection of extraordinarily high and extravagant platforms.

Fashion designer Vivienne Westwood, famously re-introduced the high heeled platform shoe into high-fashion in the early 1990s. They only began to resurface in mainstream fashion in the late 1990s, thanks in part to the UK group the Spice Girls, whose members performed in large shoes.

The puppeteer inside of Sesame Bird's Big Bird must wear platform shoes in order to reach his beak.


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