It seems like everybody got very fascinated after Elizabeth Semmehack stated that Persians invented high-heeled shoes for men in the 9th century! At least we were!
Elizabeth Semmehack, curator at the Beta Shoe Museum, traces the high heel to horse riders in the Near East who used high heels for functionality because they helped hold the rider’s foot in stirrups. She states that this footwear is depicted on a 9th-century ceramic bowl from Persia (modern-day Iran). “The high heel was worn for centuries throughout the near east as a form of riding footwear. When the soldier stood up in his stirrups, the heel helped him to secure his stance so that he could shoot his bow and arrow more effectively” says Elizabeth Semmelhack.
The heels and soles were always red – the dye was expensive and carried a martial overtone. The fashion soon spread overseas – Charles II of England’s coronation portrait of 1661 features him wearing a pair of enormous red, French style heels – although he was over 6ft (1.85m) to begin with. A wave of interest in all things Persian passed through Western Europe. Persian style shoes were enthusiastically adopted by aristocrats, who sought to give their appearance a virile, masculine edge that, it suddenly seemed, only heeled shoes could supply.
In the 1670s, Louis XIV issued an edict that only members of his court were allowed to wear red heels. In theory, all anyone in French society had to do to check whether someone was in favour with the king was to glance downwards. In practice, unauthorised, imitation heels were available.” To read the whole article, click here.