|The Met: 1790-1810.
Before I got into making historical shoes for costumers and reenactors, I spent a lot of time looking for modern shoes that would “make do.” I did things like tie bows around my mary janes, to try to make them look like 18th century shoes with latchets; I wore sequined slippers made in India with my Elizabethan gowns; I sported round-toed, metallic pleather, rubber-soled flats from Target with a Regency gown.
None of these things really worked. I’m not super sticky about authenticity, but even these shortcuts were too shortcutty for me.
Now a days, when I’m looking at historical styles to recreate for the American Duchess line, I look for the things that make a historical shoe historical. These are the hallmarks of a certain time period, the things that I will not compromise when it comes to prototyping and producing our shoes.
For instance, let’s look at early Regency shoes, about 1790 into 1810. This is a perfect example because many people think of these shoes as modern-looking, as something that can be found at Payless, or Walmart, or Target.
…but they can’t, and here’s why…
Modern shoes exhibit some but not all of the hallmarks of a 1790s shoe, which are:
1) Pointed Toe
2) Small, Curved Heel
3) Side Seam
4) Natural Materials (Leather or Silk Upper, Leather Sole)
It’s easy to find shoes that have one or even two of these things, but not all of them together. You may get the pointed toe, but have a spikey, too-high heel; or you may get the kitten heel, but have a rounded toe; and you will never find a side seam, and don’t even bother looking for a leather upper AND a leather sole together.
|This modern shoe is pretty darn close, yet still so far…
These hallmarks are exactly the things included in the upcoming Pemberlies, though, and I’ve been absolutely dying to show you guys prototype photos, but I’m waiting for the sample to arrive here to make sure it’s perfect. They’ve got the pointed toe, the side seam, and I’ve gone with a slightly thicker heel, but still curved, for easier walking on dirt paths and across grass. You’re going to love them!
*All modern shoes shown here were found on Zappos.com