Just in case you were worried you had an out-of-control shoe habit, here’s something to make you feel better. The Costume Institute at the Met Museum of Art owns 5000 pairs – that’s 2000 more pairs than the famous Philippino First Lady shoe hoarder, Imelda Marcos’s who owned 3000. Dating as far back as the 13th century right up to the present day, there’s every style imaginable lurking inside its cupboard and I couldn’t resist a rummage…
Made by Hill & Novis, 1945 (American).
The social revolution of the 1920s opened the door for more casual and youthful clothing design, such as sportswear. This pair of classic spectator shoes is in this class and combines all the quintessential features: white leather with black or brown wing tip and foxing, fully pinked and perforated at the edges, medallion tip, and an oxford cut. The appeal of this design has spawned a pump version for women, and alternate cuts (blucher, loafer, etc.) for both sexes.
Lead image: Made by Salvatore Ferragamo, 1938 (Italian).
Made by Delman, 1935 (American).
Targeting wealthy socialites and celebrities as his customers, Delman opened a small custom shoe shop on Madison Avenue in 1919, gradually shifting his attentions to manufacturing. Delman was a savvy promoter and pioneered the practice of featuring film stars in his advertisements and partnered with exclusive clothing stores, including Saks and Bergdorf Goodman, to distribute his shoes.
Made by John Hardy, 1975 (probably American).
In the era dubbed “The Peacock Revolution” by Esquire magazine, men’s fashions took a dramatic turn in the late 1960s. Modish clothing styles shifted from conservative cuts and subdued tones to colorful, youthful, and exuberant designs. This pair of oxfords, worn by a television fashion director, exhibits the exaggerated child-like style and flamboyant piecing and color scheme favored by the young and fashion-conscious. Women’s footwear styles at the time were very similar, due in part to increased openness to unisex clothing. The red and blue color scheme was frequently seen around the time of the US bicentennial.
Made in Britian, around 1740. Maker unknown.
Although men’s footwear tends to be plain compared to women’s, it does have its decorative aspects, as is seen by the light colored suede and red heels on this pair of men’s latchet shoes. The red heel was a popular aristocratic conceit, based on French court styles of the 17th century, and had come into general use by the 1770s. Although the original owner is not known, these shoes passed subsequently from one noted Scottish painter to another who may well have used the shoes as models for their genre paintings.
Take a look inside The Costume Institute’s incredible shoe collection, here.