The Artistic Reverence of the High Heel

A cause may be inconvenient, but it’s magnificent. It’s like champagne or high heels, and one must be prepared to suffer for it. ~ Arnold Bennett (British novelist, playwright, critic and essayist, 1867-1931)

Visual art comes in many forms from paintings and sculptures to jewelry, mixed media, collages and murals. But there’s one particular form of art that captivates me, the charismatic high heel. I suppose because I’m somewhat of a fashion freak, especially when it comes to shoes. In fact, I have a deranged passion for high heels, boots (especially western), golf shoes (which I wear out) and flip flops (that I wear 12 months out of the year). 

I own other types of shoes like tennis shoes, motorcycle boots (don’t worry I don’t even ride motorcycles, I just liked the look), the new Thom flats and snow boots. But they all look pretty much new because I rarely wear any of them.

Of course there’s high heels (like the ones most of us wear) and then there’s the high heel, the stilettos (that most of us deem dangerous). The thin dagger-like shape of the heel is a fashion staple for movie and rock stars. They are not only for the podiatry-adventurous but anyone (yes men too) who want to experience the shoe’s hypnotic effects.

High heels are becoming more and more elaborate, elongated, sexy works of art (and impossible for most of us to wear). In reality a stiletto is more of an attitude than just any ole high-heeled shoes. You’ll see talk show hosts wearing them sitting down, whereby most admit they don’t wear them to even walk to the dressing room in. It’s the rock and country stars that amaze me: prancing and dancing around the stage in four plus inch heels. That’s attitude, while living on the edge of danger.

I read that Leonardo Da Vinci was the inventor of the high-heel, but most historians agree that the heel was originated for horsemen whose feet would slip out of the stirrups, thus the well-known cowboy boot with the heel meant for safety rather than to make short cowboys look taller.

In 1533, more than three decades after the male French nobility began wearing heels, the diminutive wife of the Duke of Orleans commissioned a cobbler to fashion her a pair of heels, both for fashion, and to increase her stature. This was the first written record of the high-heeled shoe.

When the French Revolution drew near, in the late 1700s, the practice of wearing heels drew to a close, as the term “well-heeled” became synonymous with opulent wealth, and could incur the ire of the public at large. But in today’s hip world, stilettos are not just for the rich and famous.

In writing this brief repose I discovered, online of course, that you can design your own heels. Shoes of Prey allow women to create their own perfect pair of shoes.  First, design a style by choosing between numerous types of toes, backs, decorations and heels. Once the style is locked down, you can pick from many colors and materials including fish skin, snake skin, leathers, suede and hair.  And there you have it, now you’re both an artist and a shoe designer!

Today’s high heels run the gamut of designs and heights, and one would be hard-pressed to argue that they are not works of art.

by PAMELA HULSE ANDREWS Cascade A&E Publisher

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