The Twisted Library — December 3, 2018 at 11:05 am

The Fashion Shoe: A Timeline of the Twentieth Century


The Fashion Shoe Cover

I love shoes. Okay, if I’m being honest, I’m slightly obsessed with them. From Mary Janes to ballerina flats, I haven’t met a shoe that I haven’t fallen in love with. Shoes are such a fundamental part of our lives because we can’t leave the house without them. But that’s not why we love them, right? Day or evening, shoes have the ability to quietly bring our entire look together or make a loud statement. Indulging in a little shoe therapy may even be good for the soul. (That’s what I keep telling myself anyway.) But when I’m not able buy another pair, my shoe therapy consists of reading about them—learning the history and story behind the design. Which brings me to my latest obsession: The Fashion Shoe: A Timeline of the Twentieth Century.

With over 256 pages, The Fashion Shoe: A Timeline of the Twentieth Century is a beautifully curated dive into the evolution of the fashion shoe. It’s an elegant book, that serves as both an excellent fashion resource and collector’s item for book lovers. From the origin of the stiletto to the influence of First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, through exquisite photography, The Fashion Shoe offers a comprehensive journey through the many transitions fashionable footwear has encountered.

The Fashion Shoe

Chronicling stylish shoes from the 1900s through the early 2000s, it features over 1000 photographs of shoes, designers, and black & white photography of everyday, stylish women through the decades. First, the chapter “The Fundamentals” details the anatomy of a shoe. Other chapters feature iconic shoe designers and brands, including Manolo Blahnik, Israel Miller and brands that have since stopped production. Does fashion influence culture or does culture influence fashion? I’m not quite sure yet, but I do love the 1950s chapter, describing the shift in fashion and style due to political and cultural influences. In addition to chronicling trends and influences, there’s even a chapter that touches on the health of the feet and the health and preservation of footwear. The Fashion Shoe not only showcases the resilience of stylish footwear, but the resilience of women.

A former instructor of history of costume at the Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts and Design, Drexel University, author Desire Smith Beatty has authored numerous books on fashion, including Handbag Chic: 200 Years of Designer Fashion and Irresistible: The Art of Lingerie, 1920s-1980s. You can find The Fashion Shoe: A Timeline of the Twentieth Century online and at most major bookstores.

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