“I don’t know who invented the high heel,” said Marilyn Monroe, “but all women owe him a lot.”
When Marilyn Monroe said these words, she could have had little idea of the dizzy heights high heels would reach in the 20th century. Both women and men have been lifting themselves from the floor with heels for centuries but it wasn’t until in 1954 when Roger Vivier took thin rods of steel and inserted them into the heel that the full potential for these vintage high heels and a stiletto heel became apparent. From then on, heels have taken every form from the classic stiletto, moulded sculptural masterpieces and even heel-less.
Looking back through the decades, there are a myriad of styles to choose from with vintage t strap heels to vintage platform shoes and sometimes their dates may surprise you. Predating Roger Vivier, the iconic Salvatore Ferragamo Rainbow Wedges were in fact made for Judy Garland in 1938 though they seem closer to something from the swinging sixties. Designers have adapted shape and form to create weird and wonderful creations which bend the mind. Alexander McQueen was the fashion king of the extraordinary shoe, most notably with the Armadillo boots from his Plato’s Atlantis (Spring/Summer 2010) collection. At 30 cm high from floor to ankle and a slightly inward bending heel, they seem an impossible feet of engineering. Yet these weird hoof like creations were the perfect base for his collection and have possibly been celebrated beyond the clothes. They prove the power of a great pair of high heel shoes.
The scientifically proven temporary posture and bottom boosting power of a great high heel makes them irresistible to many women as proved by the popularity of plain high heel pumps from designers such as Christian Louboutin. These shoes, whether high or moderately heeled can give add height and elongate the figure in any outfit. However, vintage high heel shoes prove that designers have also playfully taken advantage of sky scraper heights. In 1993, Vivienne Westwood’s Fall show was immortalised by Naomi Campbell’s tumble from her platform lace ups and Daphne Guinness can often be seen in her signature heel-less beauties. If you come a cropper take a leaf from Guinness’s book ‘What is the taboo around falling down? You're supposed to feel embarrassed. But you know, gravity, man.’ Psychologists have studied a woman’s attraction to shoes and have many theories from the frustrated traveller to Cinderella and searching for enlightenment. Yet we all know that, even on a day when we are not feeling our best, a pair of high heel shoes whether we wear them to please others eyes or just our own, can add a large (if slightly wobbly) spring to your step.
Take a look through Open For Vintage’s collection of vintage heels, whether you are looking for a specific event such as vintage wedding heels or simply for pleasure, there is plenty to inspire.