If you think heeled shoes are something typically worn by women, think again. European soldiers in the 17th century wore them on the battlefield! Heeled shoes helped them carry heavy weaponry. Then the French King Louis XIV (1638 – 1715) started wearing shoes with red heels. That’s 200 years before Hollywood actresses began wearing them in movies. And that’s way before the famous shoe company Christian Louboutin made red heels its symbol.
However, men abandoned the idea of heeled shoes and women picked it up. Marie Antoinette – wife of Louis XVI – was known for her heels. And in the 1920s, heels became a fashion statement. Every woman wanted them! No matter how painful or wobbly, wearing heels meant.
Then women eventually entered the workforce. And what goes well with formal office attire? High, high heels! But some states in the United States (US) limited the height of heels to just about 1.5 inches. Shoemakers argued this would affect their business. Even cowboys, who wore heeled shoes made popular by western movies, feared the farewell of their precious boots. In the end, fashion won, and high-heeled shoes stayed forever.
Only this time, the fat heels of the French king became thinner and taller! These types of shoes took the name stilettos. It’s Italian for a sharp knife. And it makes sense, doesn’t it? The narrow, high heels seemed as sharp as knives, somehow strong enough to support the weight of an entire person!
But after a while in the 1960s, male musicians began wearing short-heeled shoes. But during this time, block heels were in fashion. However, in the 1990s, designer Manolo Blahnik became fed up with the blocks and reintroduced pointy heels into the stores. His most famous pair was the black, sharp-heeled shoes worn by Princess Diana in 1994. And they became famous overnight, it seems. Blahnik began selling 30,000 pairs every year!
Around that time, Christian Louboutin took inspiration from Louis XIV’s red heels and started selling shoes with bright red soles and heels. They became iconic. Today, anywhere around the world, when you see someone wearing red heels, you know they’re Louboutins. You also know they’re extremely expensive!
What started as the stuff of the royals, became a fashion trend of the commoners! Whether branded or brought off the street, heels are here to stay.