The Debutante, Harlow, Antonia… if you’ve been checking out our website, you’ve probably noticed that we love the glamour and elegance of a stylish, high-heeled shoe. But, did you know this? The high-heeled shoe was first worn mostly by MEN, not women. While it’s probably safe to say that you won’t see any modern-day male icons (cue Tom Brady) strutting their stuff in heels, this wasn’t always the case.
In the 1600’s, high heels were worn by members of nobility, such as King Louis XIV, to make them appear taller; a reflection of a cultural value that remains true to this day, equating height with class, social stature, and power. Some language scholars propose that the term “well-heeled,” meaning wealthy, derived from this as well; pointing to the fact that it was only the upper classes that were able to sport this aristocratic style.
The red colored heels pictured here, were the King’s signature. He was so proud of these heels that he banned anyone else in the court from wearing them. These shoes became so notorious with the King that the style itself became known as the “Louis Heel.”
Unlike other fashions of this era that have long since faded away, (i.e. bodices, corsets) the high heel shoe is as relevant today as ever. In fact, it would be hard to imagine a wedding, prom, or red-carpet event without them. It’s hard to think of a classic beauty portrait of someone like Marilyn Monroe without conjuring the image of a silky white dress and high heels. Certainly Hollywood black-tie affairs like the Oscars wouldn’t be the same. Nor would the sheer power and captivating appeal of a Tango dancer. Or prom. Or a night at the opera. The list could go on, but we don’t really need to elaborate the point; nobody can argue the fact that the high heel shoe remains synonymous with elegance and sophistication.
So, will we hear Givenchy or Jimmy Choo singing praises to King Louis XIV for bringing the high heel into popular fashion? Probably not. But it is an interesting little factoid.