By Polly Guerin, the Fashion Historian
HEIGHT AND PRACTICALITY
A HISTORICAL LEAP INTO FOOTWEAR
Until man invented footwear, he walked. That’s it barefoot! The invention of footwear was the first step forward in devising protection for the feet. The sandal is perhaps the oldest creation and has its incarnation as far back as the Egyptians and evolved in modern times as the flip flop. Jeweled sandals worn by the privileged few in the early Roman Empire were decorated with priceless gemstones and pearls. However, one could not exist by the sandal alone and eventually different styles were needed as transportation. Footwear back then identified with one’s lifestyle or work and shoes did not come sized for the right or left foot. In those early days it was just one size fits all. If you were a member of the wealthy class or a member of the court, however, you could have your servant wear the shoes for a while so that they could break them in for you. Going to great lengths to outdo one another in the 15th century women of fashion privilege and dandies outdid the pointed vamp statement with such an extremely pointed projectile that a gold cord had to be extended from the point to the top of their boot so that they could walk.
THE CULT OF HANDCRAFTED SHOES
BIO: Polly Guerin, a former professor at the Fashion Institute of Technology took 20 of her students every summer on a fashion expedition tour to visit the Couture Houses and meet the designers in the fashion centers of Europe. Ferragamo’s shoe museum in Florence Italy was a main attraction as was the Gucci Factory just outside of the town limits. Culture was always part of the tour and included visits to Fontainebleau and Versailles in France and the Albert & Victoria Museum and Blenheim in England.