1690-1700, FRENCH, SILK AND LEATHER MEN'S SHOES. ALL PHOTOS COURTESY OF THE METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART
“I don’t know who invented high heels, but all women owe him a lot.” –Marilyn Monroe
For centuries women have teetered their way to fashion’s greatest heights on a shoe that remains the ultimate sign of feminine style and sex appeal. Kind of ironic since most iconic women’s shoe designers are men: Roger Vivier, Manolo Blahnik and Christian Louboutin, to name a few.
What’s even more interesting, the high-heeled shoe originated not within the feminine sphere but in menswear!
All images in this post are courtesy of the Special Collections and College Archives at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City.
Meet one of my favorite artists, George Barbier (1882-1932), one of the master illustrators of the Art Moderne and Art Deco eras. Barbier was a preeminent figure of the period who shaped the visual landscape of the Teens and 20’s. A prolific artist, his work ranged from the graphic arts, set, costume and jewelry design, to book and fashion illustration.
Barbier honed his signature style during a revolutionary time in fashion illustration when artistic license was championed over the realistic—and traditional—depiction of clothing.