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Zeitgeist

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A brief outline of the history of shoe design and the global events which may have influenced same.

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Zeitgeist

  1. 1. Zeitgeist: Shoes, the good, the bad, the ugly Cameron Kippen Blogger & Shoe Savant
  2. 2. Bone needles and bespoke clothing During the Upper Paleolithic period (40k- 25k years ago) needles with eyes became precision tools used for sewing skins and furs. The long-held belief, sandals were the first shoes, although that remains unverified.
  3. 3. Prehistoric Footwear Shoe finds come from a wide variety of geographical locations supporting the theory shoe styles were spontaneous innovations made from available resources and consistent with the development of local crafts. Pre historic shoes demonstrate a surprising range of styles that would not be out place in a modern shoe store.
  4. 4. Caligae: Hob-Nailed Sandals Heavy-soled hob-nailed military boots issued to Roman legionary soldiers and auxiliaries throughout the Roman Republic and Empire. A better shod army marched further across rougher terrain, and the Empire expanded beyond any other. After the Fall of the Empire, parochial shoemakers carried on the Roman traditions keeping the trades alive.
  5. 5. Clothing: Decoration, modesty or protection ? Long been debated, as to what came first, with the common consensus it was protection, yet the evidence to support this hypothesis is scant. Modesty as a concept, is also comparatively new in the history of the west, and has no more linage than a couple of millennium. This leaves the primary function of footwear as decoration.
  6. 6. According to Freud we became seeing beings and clothing provided the safest distance to assess a stranger.
  7. 7. Poulaines: Long Toed Shoes In the 11th century, across Europe, the length of men’s shoes got longer and longer until they were 24 inches longer than the foot. Despite papal laws to prevent lower classes from wearing poulaines, the fashion continued unabated for another four hundred years. No clear explanation has ever been proffered to explain this strange phenomenon.
  8. 8. European Chivalry and Courtly Love European courtly love flourished in the early 12th century and high-minded ideals of true romance were spread throughout when troubadours sang openly of love’s joys and heartbreaks in daringly personalised terms, extolling the ennobling effects of the lover’s’ selfless devotion. Troubadour’s songs promoted a love yearned for, and at times rewarded by, the solace of every delight of the beloved except physical possession by sexual union. The relationship was always illicit i.e. the woman was usually older, the spouse of another, often a lord or patron, and consummation was not possible.
  9. 9. Long Toed Shoes Young men stuffed their long-toed shoes with moss and grass and under the circumstances, with no stretch of the imagination, a 24" long extension on the end of each foot, could be put to very practical use. Small hawk bells were sewn on the end of the shoe to audibly indicate, the wearer was interested in sexual frolic.
  10. 10. Courtly love and "intimate ceremonies" Two "intimate ceremonies" of courtship were commonly practised. Woman worship was where the would-be suitor gazed on the partly or fully undressed lady; and naked courting couples were allowed to lie side by side sometimes separated by only a pillow. Kissing and embracing were encouraged but the lovers proved their depth of love by avoiding sexual intercourse. These behaviours were highly sensual and carnal and at a time in history when married couples were parted or marriage was delayed, masturbation provided the perfect solution.
  11. 11. The Presence of Syphilis Most medical authorities accept treponmeal disease existed in Europe prior to the 15th century, and was spread by sexual contact. The presence of the pox and the knowledge of its transmission gave reason to influence sexual practises. Long toed shoes may have provided the ideal means of birth control and later provide protection from sexually transmitted disease.
  12. 12. Foot Binding The historical corollary if required, was foot binding in the Orient. At precisely the same time in history, the bound (Lotus) foot became incorporated into sexual practice.
  13. 13. Neurosyphilis The outcome of neurosyphilis is tabes dorsalis, characterised by a progressive locomotor ataxia (due to loss of proprioception); a sensory ataxia causes a wide based, "high-stepping" gait. A further complication is general paresis caused by brain damage which presents as impaired mental function with personality disorders including grandiose delusions. Was it a coincidence poulaines caused fashionable courtiers to adopt a wide based, high stepping gait (similar to advanced tabes dorsalis).
  14. 14. The Court Jester "When the king was a syphilitic semi-imbecile, a jester even more grotesque may have served as a useful stage prop, disarming criticism by making the king look more nearly normal by comparison and thus making the make-believe of kingship possible." Willeford
  15. 15. How did style change? Crown heads were the fashion doyens of the time and inter marriage between countries (or courts) the main reason for change of costume. One fashion was superimposed upon another with a trickle down to ensure courtiers and courtesans were kept à la mode. This languid fashion exchange meant costume took many hundreds years to change.
  16. 16. The Duck Bill Towards the end of the 15th century, the fashion for long toed shoes became passé, almost overnight. An absence of written documentation means the reasons remain unclear, but from contemporary paintings, the only evidence available, the style was quickly replaced by shoes which were so broad across the ball of the foot as to boast of individual compartments for each toe.
  17. 17. The first orthopaedic footwear ? One credible reason for a universal change of fashion would be the presence of disease. By this time, a more virulent form of syphilis was in pandemic across Europe, Russia, China, India and Africa. A further complication of neurosyphilis is Charcot foot where trophic ulceration decimates the sole of the foot. Decreased sensation and loss of ability to feel temperature, pain or trauma, follows, leaving the feet insensate and unprotected. What better way to protect them than encasing them within the Bears Paw. The fashion prevailed for another two hundred years which coincidently happen to mirror the worst of the syphilis epidemics.
  18. 18. Platform Shoes By the end of the 15th century, the Italian city states like Florence had become the centre of world trade. Fine goods were in abundance and local craftsmen made merry. To show off the wealth of their rich husbands, successful merchant’s wives wore platform shoes (chopines), lifting them off the ground, to highlight their rich sumptuous costume. Quickly the fashion for taller platforms became vogue until they were 24 inches high. Walking required two servants for support, (or at least a silver top walking stick), and rarely did the lady ever travel outside without a sedan chair.
  19. 19. The end of the Chopine The fashion came to an abrupt end in 1519 after it was discovered more and more injuries were reported particularly among pregnant fashionista. The term miscarriage originally is thought to relate to falling over platform shoes. Cobblers soon discovered the shoe became more stable and easier to walk by carving out the forefoot section of the platform leaving the heel elevated.
  20. 20. Catherine di Medici Catherine married the future king of France but was widowed early. For the duration of her lifetime, she had a tremendous influence of the French way of life. Not all good, but she did arrive in Paris wearing high heeled mules which instantly took the attention of the fashion conscious and became vogue for both women and men. The fashion remained popular for about fifty years before it was considered déclassé. This is the first time a particular piece of costume had been associated with a living person and many believe this marks the beginning of women’s fashion. Some women still wore them but by this time the style was more associated with “depraved and dissolute women”. Misogynistic medicos have never been able to forgive them. Catherine di Medici was born in the same year sumptuary laws prevented chopines from being worn.
  21. 21. Style and shoe dimensions In the Middle Ages, the physical dimensions of shoes were both defined by disease and determined by decency. Length was traditionally measured by ears of barley corn (1 inch was equal to 3 barleycorns; and 39 barleycorn the equivalent to adult size 13 shoe).
  22. 22. Throughout the Middle Ages shoe makers were industrious trades people keen to follow the fads of their patrons and quick to form unions gaining themselves reputations for being socially rebellious. During the 17th century shoe makers were often depicted satirically in fairy tales as goblin like change agents sometimes with naughty, or ulterior motives Shoemakers were change agents
  23. 23. The Cavalier boot By the 17th century boots were part of military attire and soon became fashionable across Europe. Boots were distinctively men's fashion and worn outside the trousers in salons as well as on the dance floor. Charles, I, suffered osteomalacia (rickets) as a child and learned to walk with the aid of callipers cleverly concealed into his boots made by the Royal shoemaker.
  24. 24. The Wellington Boot By early nineteenth centuries boots surpassed shoes as the fashionable footwear for men. In the Regency Period, Dandies like, George Beau Brummel, l had his patent leather boots polished with champagne. The Duke of Wellington instructed his shoemaker, Hoby of St. James's Street, London, to modify his Hessian boots and make them suitably hard-wearing for riding, yet smart enough for informal evening wear. After he defeated Napoleon in 1815, he became a national hero and the wellington boot proved so popular they were worn by patriotic civilians eager to emulate their war hero.
  25. 25. The Cowboy Boot Wellingtons were standard US cavalry issue to Union troops, during the American Civil War. However, unscrupulous contractors supplied below par footwear made of reinforced carboard and many horse soldiers suffered deep cuts to their feet. A Chiropodist General to the US cavalry was appointed at this time. After hostilities, troops sent to the Western frontier to fight in the Indian Wars were supplied with the surplus of shoddy boots, which fell apart. Priority was given to skilled leather workers from Germany and other European Countries to craft "kips", which were more hard-wearing boots. By the end of the 19th century a more practical cowboy boot was beginning to emerge as a distinctive style.
  26. 26. The Hollywood Cowboy Boot By the time of the Hollywood cowboy featured, the preferred boot style was no longer a Wellington but a Tejas. In the Napoleonic Wars, Duke of Wellington championed his boot, but his nemesis Emperor Napoleon preferred Tejas.
  27. 27. The three most important influences on modern footwear design In modern history, the three most important influences on footwear design have been: Hollywood and the mass media; World Wars; and The Space Race. In the 20th century, resurgence of nostalgia came first with the Hollywood epics ensuring millions of the world’s populations could not just see but also wear the fashions of their icons. This was the beginning of today’s fashion industry. Changing Theatres of War enforced new developments in footwear, first with mass production, then right and left fittings, with further innovations to allow foot comfort in changing global settings.
  28. 28. A new era: Biomechanics and sport sciences The influence of professional sports, micro-computers and the science of biomechanics have all advanced the design of footwear in the 21st Century. Human beings had to put someone on the moon before they could have ever make the shoes that may just one day, allow us all to run a marathon in under two hours.The aftermath of the Space Race combined with the Age of the New polymer. Meant new out-of-this-world materials could be used in footwear design
  29. 29. Acknowledgements To all sources who made this presentation not only possible, but more importantly, plausible. Sincere thanks.

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