Fashion Blog site about my line & opinions

L’Histoire de Mode #1~Stiletto

 

 

Stiletto Heels

A stiletto heel is a long, thin, high heel found on some boots and shoes, usually for

women. It is named after the stiletto dagger, the phrase being first recorded in the early 1930s.

Stiletto heels may vary in length from 2.5 centimetres (1 inch) to 25 cm (10 inches) or more if a

platform sole is used, and are sometimes defined as having a diameter at the ground of

less than 1 cm (slightly less than half an inch). Stiletto-style heels 5 cm or shorter are called

kitten heels. Not all high slim heels merit the description stiletto. The extremely slender

original Italian-style stiletto heels of the late 1950s and very early 1960s were no more

than 5mm in diameter for much of their length, although the heel sometimes

flared out a little at the top-piece (tip). After their demise in the mid-late 1960s,

such slender heels were difficult to find until recently due to changes in the way

heels were mass-produced. A real stiletto heel has a stem of solid steel or alloy. The

more usual method of mass-producing high shoe heels, i.e. moulded plastic with an

internal metal tube for reinforcement, does not

achieve the true stiletto shape.

Relatively thin high heels were certainly around in the late 19th

century, as numerous fetish drawings attest. Firm photographic

evidence exists in the form of photographs of Parisian singer Mistinguett

from the 1940s. These shoes were designed by Andre Perugia, who began

designing shoes in 1906. It seems unlikely that he invented the stiletto, but

he is probably the first firmly documented designer of the high, slim heel. The

word stiletto is derived from stylus, meaning a pin or stalk. Its usage in footwear

first appeared in print in the New Statesman magazine in 1959: “She came …forward,

her walk made lopsided by the absence of one heel of the stilettos”.

High heel shoes were worn by men and women courtiers. The design of the

stiletto heel originally came from the late Kristin S. Wagner but would

not become popular until the late 1950s. The stiletto heel came with the advent of

technology using a supporting metal shaft or stem embedded into the heel, instead

of wood or other, weaker materials that required a wide heel. This revival of the

opulent heel style can be attributed to the designer Roger Vivier and such designs

became very popular in the 1950s.

As time went on, stiletto heels became known more for their erotic

nature than for their ability to make height. Stiletto heels are a common

fetish item. As a fashion item, their popularity was changing over time.

After an initial wave of popularity in the 1950s, they reached their most refined

shape in the early 1960s, when the toes of the shoes which bore them became as

slender and elongated as the stiletto heels themselves. As a result of the overall sharpness

of outline, it was customary for women to refer to the whole shoe as a “stiletto”, not

just the heel, via synecdoche (pars pro toto). Although they officially faded from the

scene after the Beatle era began, their popularity continued at street level, and women

stubbornly refused to give them up even after they could no longer readily find them in

the mainstream shops.

A version of the stiletto heel was reintroduced as soon as 1974

by Manolo Blahnik, who dubbed his “new” heel the Needle. Similar heels were stocked at

the big Biba store in London, by Russell and Bromley and by smaller boutiques. Old,

unsold stocks of pointed-toe stilettos, and contemporary efforts to replicate

them (lacking the true stiletto heel because of changes in the way heels

were by then being mass-produced) were sold in street fashion markets

and became popular with punks, and with other fashion “tribes” of the

late 1970s until supplies of the inspirational original styles dwindled in

the early 1980s. Subsequently, round-toe shoes with slightly thicker

(sometimes cone-shaped) semi-stiletto heels, often very high in an attempt

to convey slenderness (the best example of this being the shoes sold in

London by Derber), were frequently worn at the office with

wide-shouldered power suits.

The style survived through much

of the 1980s but almost completely disappeared during the 1990s,

when professional and college-age women took to wearing shoes

with thick, block heels. However, the slender stiletto heel staged

a major comeback after 2000, when young women adopted

the style for dressing up office wear or adding a feminine

touch to casual wear, like jeans. Stiletto heels are particularly

associated with the image of the femme fatale. They are often

considered to be a seductive item of clothing, and often

feature in popular culture.

Stilettos give the optical illusion of a longer, slimmer leg, a smaller foot,

and a greater overall height. They also alter the wearer’s posture and gait,

flexing the calf muscles, and making the

bust and buttocks more

prominent.

All high heels counter the natural functionality of the foot,

which can create skeleton/muscular problems if they are worn

excessively. Stiletto heels are no exception, but some people assume

that because they are thinner they must be worse for you. In fact, they are

safer to wear than the other extreme of high heel fashion, the platform shoe.

Despite their impracticality, their popularity remains undiminished – as Terry

DeHavilland (UK shoe designer) has said, “people say they’re bad for the

feet but they’re good for the mind. What’s more important?”

Stiletto heels concentrate a large amount of force into a small area.

The great pressure under such a heel (greater than that under the feet of an elephant.)

can cause damage to carpets and floors. The stiletto heel will also sink into soft

ground, making it impractical for

outdoor wear on grass.

Samples:

Ed Hardy

Dior

Jimmy Choo, Cole Haan, Sergio Rossi, Burberry, Louboutin, Guess, MIA, Madden

Balenciaga

Ducati

DeSquared F/W 10 (look familiar?)

 

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s