They might seem like mundane necessities, down there shuffling around in the dust. But as virtually every woman and a great many men know, shoes have long inspired imaginative caprice and private longing on an extravagant scale.
Some of the great designers of the twentieth century have found the form of the shoe a source of extraordinary inspiration. Ferragamo, Vivier, Yantourney, and Perugia; Charles Jourdan, Manolo Blahnik, and Maud Frizon — all have devoted their rich creativity to shoe design, an enterprise Vivier describes as "a sculptural problem in which the center is always void."
Elegant, fanciful, extravagant, and quirky, twentieth-century shoes put their best foot forward in Heavenly Soles. This book introduces us to some of the most startling and delightful shoes ever created, from the magnificent hand-crafted wonders Yantourney produced in the 1920s using antique laces and velvets, to the supremely comfortable yet elegant platforms from Ferragamo during the 40s, and a recent collection from Vivier embroidered with pearls, feathers, and crystal beads.
But theres more to the story then design and glamor. Heavenly Soles also tell us about the changing position of women in the twentieth century — the first era in which it has been fashionable for them to walk, freely and comfortably, and the first in which shoes have been perfected for fit and balance. In contrast, the wonderfully illustrated text shows the import of the sexy and crippling stiletto heel of the 50s while also providing fascinating information about the larger fashion context of the times. This beautifully designed survey concludes with an international compendium of the best of contemporary models, none of which belongs to Imelda.
Mary Trasko lives in New York and writes on architecture, design, and fashion history.