|Shoe Icons: Scarlet satin high white leather heel shoes, Great Britain, c 1775-1785|
|Museum of London - Moroccan leather shoes, 1783-1787|
|The Met . Early 18th century|
|1740-50 National Trust|
|This great image shows red shoes with yellow heels, and blue shoes with red heels. Colonial Williamsburg did a great recreation of this.|
What is "Moroccan Leather?"
Moroccan leather is very fine, high quality goatskin leather that was used for high quality items such as shoes, gloves, book bindings, and furniture coverings. It was traditionally dyed red using sumac, and was tanned in a particular way to bring out the grain. Originally imported from Morocco (of course), it had its imitators, "French Morocco," for instance, made from sheepskin. We're also imitating it with our red Kensingtons, made from high quality pig leather, but dyed the same rich red.
Who wore red shoes?
Red leather shoes were worn by the middling and upper classes, and were just as "glitzy" as the silk shoes, but more practical. Later in the 18th century, the pastime of walking in the country became popular, and silk shoes just didn't work for such excursions. This lead to a demand for leather shoes, but in any color except black. Black leather shoes were worn by the lower, working classes, and the very poor, and for an aristocratic lady to wear black leather, well, it just wouldn't have happened. Red, yellow, pink, and green leathers were popular, and remember, these were not rough, coarse, bovine leathers, but very high quality goat and sheep leathers, like Moroccan leather.
Some of you ladies are Red Shoe Women and you'll wear your red Kensies with abandon, but some of you may be wondering how to pair red shoes with your 18th century ensembles, especially if your outfit doesn't have any red in it.
Don't be afraid! Add a dash of red to your hat, pin on a red ribbon to your stomacher, or tie a red sash at your waist. Any bit of red elsewhere on your person will tie your red shoes in with your ensemble. You can do this with an outfit of any color scheme, even blue, and especially pale blue. Try it!
So now you know the inspiration behind the red Kensingtons. Remember to enter the giveaway to win a pair of Kensies, your choice of black or red, and a DVD set of the 18th century film series "Courage, New Hampshire." You can also pre-order your red or black Kensingtons for the special $99 price, between now and March 19, at american-duchess.com.