Friday, November 8, 2019

Walking and Stepping: A History of the Shoe

Marie-Antoinette's shoe
From Apollo:
This slipper, which belonged to Marie-Antoinette in 1792, measures just five centimetres wide and 21 long – the equivalent of a UK shoe size one today. The question of how the queen’s foot could have fit such a small shoe was the spark igniting this exhibition’s investigation into the history of footwear. Research shows that it was customary for aristocratic women of the 18th century to wear shoes that they struggled to walk in, with tiny feet and small steps used to signify social status.
Shoes for women in the 19th century were often uncomfortably constricting, with pointed toes that required the wearer’s toes to curl up. These lavender silk slippers belonged to the socialite and salonnière Juliette Récamier, and their narrow shape calls to mind an 1805 article in the Journal de Paris that described ‘ladies [who] make […] every effort to shorten and shrink their feel in all directions’, and compared the behaviour to foot-binding practices in China. (Read more.)
Madame Récamier's slipper

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