A HISTORY OF HEELS

No woman can resist a pair of beautiful heels.

Here’s a timeline of how this style of shoe became a symbol of womanliness. Our story’s protagonists include Salvatore Ferragamo, Manolo Blahnik, Jimmy Choo and Christian Louboutin.

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Salvatore Ferragamo

Salvatore Ferragamo was one of the biggest and most talented Italian designers of the 20th century. He has the indisputable credit of creating innovative and exuberant designs, having patented some unique pieces such as the sandals 18k in 1956, the cork wedge heels in 1937, and the timeless classic transparent sandals in 1947.

His history is a modern tale. Salvatore could make shoes at the age of nine, when he was fourteen years old, he opened a small shop in his parents’ house. Two years later, he emigrated to the USA, where he began to create shoes for Hollywood stars. The patchwork upper shoes had changed his career. He made them in 1930, and they were a clear example of his craftsmanship, since the patchwork became Ferragamo’s trademark.

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In the mid-1930s, Ferragamo carried out some experimentation with cork. During Mussolini’s reign, the League of Nations had imposed the embargo with Italy, and a lot of raw material couldn’t be imported. So Ferragamo used cork to provide his footwear with a lightweight and comfortable base, then covering it with leather. In 1937, he deposited the invention. It was the first patent in the history of fashion. The cork wedge’s success then followed, with singer Carmen Miranda’s custom pair being the most iconic. Salvatore may not have had a knack for business, but when he died in 1960, 750 artisans worked in his lab and created 350 patterns a day. To this day, this luxury brand is globally synonymous with quality and luxury.

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Manolo Blahnik

“If God wanted us to wear flat shoes, he wouldn’t have created Manolo Blahnik.” – Alexandra Shulman, Director of Vogue UK

Manolo is a divinity in the fashion world, and he reached his peak when his shoes became Carrie Bradshaw’s favourite. He was born in the Canary Islands, Spain to wealthy parents, and studied art in Paris. At the end of ’60s, he moved to London where he opened a store in Chelsea. In 1972, eccentric designer Ossie Clark invited Manolo to design his footwear for his new collection. But Manolo’s creative inspiration was against the technical know-how. Nonetheless, the beauty of his shoes was loved by the public, and in 1974, he was the first man to be featured on the Vogue UK cover.

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The amazing and timeless protagonists of Sex and the City often don Manolo Blanik’s shoes. During one particular episode, fashionista Carrie notices a pair of tapered varnish shoes in the newsroom of Vogue magazine. They were the Bebè Campari. Despite these heels being a decade old, they are still produced to this day.

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Manolo is now a celebrity, but he is nonetheless a simple person. He follows his collections with a lot of attention, designing the prototypes, slicing the mold on the wood and, at the end, supervises the production.

Jimmy Choo

No Oscar night is complete without a pair of Jimmy Choos on the red carpet. In 1986, the footwear designer opened his working hub in Hackney. In 1988, Vogue UK dedicated a four-column article celebrating his refinement and preciseness in the realisation by hand. In 1996, Choo collaborated with assignment editor of the Vogue UK accessories department Tamara Mellon, and became an international ready-to-wear brand.

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Christian Louboutin

Christian Louboutin brought forth the fetish in fashion and maximised on the burlesque genre. Born in France, he opened his first store in 1992. In 2007, he took part at the fetish photographic exhibition by David Lynch in the Galarie du Passage. Christian exposed his new ballet heels, with a dizzying heel and the famous red sole.

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In 2010 C.L. dedicated a pair of shoes to his actress friend Blake Lively. He’s now made his debut in the make up department with his Christian Louboutin Beauté cosmetics.

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