A First Look at “Astoria” Edwardian Shoe Prototype

I interrupt “50s week” to bring you this very important post.  I just received the first photos of Astoria, the Edwardian shoe that has been in development.

Here is your chance to be a footwear designer, and get an inside look at how things are done.  Please understand that these photos are from the manufacturer and are of the prototype only.  The leather, color, and buttons are placeholders, and as you see, there is no sole on the shoe yet.

Try to look past the funky photo quality and the rough look of the shoe, and image how the final will appear, in creamy leather, with pearl buttons.

What do you like?  What would you change?  Please feel free to comment, and hold nothing back!  Your comments are what helps me produce the perfect shoe.

Brass buttons are placeholders only!

You can see in this photo the taper of the toe and the narrower lasts
“buckle” means button in this instance.

Notes about Astoria –

  • Astoria is built on dance shoe lasts, which are far narrower than the Devonshire lasts.  These are intended to fit the foot snugly, like any dress shoe
  • The toe is tapered but not intended to be pointed
  • Upper (the outside of the shoe) materials is cream colored leather
  • Sole material is 100% smooth leather
  • Lining material (insole) is man-made.

Here is the original design, and the original shoe “Astoria” is based on:

The original shoe from “Shoe Icons” museum


  • MD Smith

    December 28, 2011 at 8:54 PM

    I agree that the toe is too round, and that the heel needs to balance just like dance shoes. I sincerely hope that the sizes will include at least C width, if not D, considering the lasts are narrow to begin with.

  • Unknown

    December 28, 2011 at 9:04 PM

    I agree with tapering the toe and pushing the heel back a bit. Also, since these will be in leather (instead of silk, like the original pair) I'd suggest lowering the part just below the outer ankle bone a bit further, as leather will cut or dig into the bone and silk would adapt/stretch/move.

  • The Dreamstress

    December 28, 2011 at 9:32 PM

    Exciting! They are looking gorgeous.

    I agree with many other of the comments in that the toe is too rounded. Please make the toe slightly narrower and less bulbous – it will look so much more accurate! The heel is also a tiny bit too small – definitely smaller than the original, and too small to dance in at that position.

  • Mel

    December 28, 2011 at 10:09 PM

    My worry about the shoe is that you will eliminate customers by using a narrower last to produce them. I myself have a slightly wider foot than normal, so they would most likely not fit at all.

  • Jennifer Bristow

    December 28, 2011 at 10:19 PM

    Beautiful! I always have to worry about the toe box not being big enough… so I like the rounded toe and pointed toes seem to be narrower in the toe box. On color, I'd love to see a darker color like grey.

  • Paula

    December 28, 2011 at 10:29 PM

    Looks lovely so far! Can't wait to see the finished result.
    I'm of a same opinion on the heel and the toe, though I think the toe should also be a bit longer so the tapering won't squish the toes and it will look more accurate that way.
    Another thing that bothers me is the lower strap ending. To my eye it looks to be a bit too far down. Looking at the exact pair and your design drawing the opening is narrower and the straps line up nicely with the scoop. Now the opening for the foot goes first down and then continues horizontal to the toe whereas in the old shoes it goes pretty straight to the toes. (hope that makes some sense to somebody)

  • American Duchess

    December 28, 2011 at 10:52 PM

    Hi everybody – these are excellent comments. I will pass on to the factory to make the toe pointier, and to adjust the cuts and strapping to be closer to the original.

    The heel – this is the same heel as the Georgiana and Devonshire. Bobbie, it will be the same color, yes, and is 1.75" high. It is placed in the center of the wearer's heel, not at the back, which causes balance issues and pain in the lower spine.

    Unfortunately the only thing we're stuck in on is the heel. It's complicated – waisted heels like these are very difficult to apply leather and fabric to, and the manfacturers don't like to do them for that reason. I insisted on Louis heels for the historical shoes, so we had custom heel molds made, which is very expensive, but I thought essential, but it does mean that each time we want to do a new type of heel, we have the extra cost, so we try to reuse heels we've already made, so the shoes don't become too expensive. Make sense?

  • Olympe de la Tour D'Auvergne

    December 28, 2011 at 11:00 PM

    Sounds like you're already making all of the changes I would suggest. Will you be offering a version in satin as well as leather? That would be terrific.

  • ColeV

    December 28, 2011 at 11:08 PM

    I agree, just the adjustment on the toe. This time periods heels were practically a repeat of the 18th century anyway!
    Oh, and just a general note, leather was also a dress shoe at this time. A friend of mine owns three pairs of 1910s shoes he was given from the estate of a very well-to-do lady. One is silk satin in cream, the other two are leather (one cream and one robins egg blue). All three have beading on them and were clearly not worn for everyday wear (barely a scuff to be seen!). And about a size 3.
    And I'll be the first to say Hurray! to the narrower last. They just don't make narrows at all anymore.

  • Julie

    December 28, 2011 at 11:35 PM

    Even though I typically wear a 6.5w (and LOVED my "screwed up" Georgies), I definitely think the narrower last is the way to go with this period. Yeah, they may be a little tight, but I have to assume they were tight in the originals too… Modern people are just spoiled by sneakers.

    I'm SO EXCITED. I'm hoping to get a pair of these for my birthday.

  • American Duchess

    December 29, 2011 at 1:47 AM

    Excellent comments, and extremely helpful. While I can't fiddle with the heel how we'd like, I have submitted the revisions for a slightly longer, pointier toe, and some adjustments to the cutwork and straps, to get closer to the inspiration shoe.

    It's leather for now, but as we grow I hope to be able to offer multiple fabrics and colors. The leather can be dyed and dressed up with frillies, and will come in a naturally lovely ivory color. The great thing about leather in the Edwardian period is that it was both a day material and an evening material.

    This is not the last Edwardian shoe you'll see from me, though. I'm enamored with the period – such beautiful footwear!

  • The Dreamstress

    December 29, 2011 at 5:41 AM

    Yay for a longer, pointier toe! Unfortunately, you may loose a few very wide-footed customers, but you will gain a few customers like me who were never able to wear the Georgianas & Devonshires because of the really round toe – I just can't do that style. Speaking of which, if you ever do decide to release a Georgiana/Devonshire variant with a narrower toe (much more historical anyway) I will love you forever (well, even *more* than I do now) and be on them like black on Queen Victoria!

  • KittyKatt

    December 29, 2011 at 6:15 AM

    I looked carefully at the extant shoe vs. the mockup and I think the problem with the toe is not that the toe is too rounded, but that the toe box is too tall. This has been an issue with your other shoes as well; they end up looking not "quite" right for some reason. That being said, our modern feet are differently shaped than those of Edwardian times (just plain larger) and the toe box issue may be unavoidable. I would ask your cobbler what they think. I love the placement of the heel and straps, and would love to see a fabric version of these as well, perhaps in shantung or faille.

  • Thread-Head

    December 29, 2011 at 8:19 AM

    Wow. I'm a fan. One comment, if you're still taking opinions-
    on the original inspiration shoe (and your illustration) the top strap and button are situated further back, so that they are "behind" the bottom button. The position of that button seems to be a quarter inch or more closer to the heel than the bottom button. On the mock-up, that top button is much further forward, in front of the bottom button. If the top strap and button could extend back to the elegant, longer proportions of the original, it would really improve the overall line of the shoe. Either way, I can't wait to see what you do with it!

  • Debi

    December 29, 2011 at 4:02 PM

    It's so LOVELY! Wow!!! Will you be offering a version in satin as well for those of us who don't or can't wear leather (me? I'm allergic to the heavy metals used to tan leather)

  • Anonymous

    December 29, 2011 at 9:59 PM

    I am SO EXCITED about these shoes! It seems like the back part that's right up against your heel bone scoops up higher than the back in the original pair. It would be nice to see it curve up a little less and for the curve to start farther back towards the heel.

    Great thinking, to get these out by April 2012!

  • Anonymous

    December 30, 2011 at 12:34 AM

    I have ordered all of your shoes so far. Love them all. Silk would be nice, but leather would be cool too. Black or a dark color would be awesome this time. I don't think I would order cream.

  • ZipZip

    December 30, 2011 at 1:16 AM

    Dear Lauren,

    So happy with the changes to the mockup that are underway, especially the tall toebox and pointier front. They will make the shoe daintier. I am sure you are examining the straps and where the cutout on the vamp comes to…it seems deeper and closer to the toe than on your drawings, but I might be mistaken.

    These will be super shoes, and I will as happily wear them for modern wear as for Edwardian events…they will be perfect for a wedding we're attending in June! If I get my Moxie going (we'll see), they'll be in company with a robe de style, for these shoes do twenties as well as tens!

    Thank you for taking on the challenge and working with us all. It must be devilishly hard.

    Very best,


    The nicest design yet.

    Very best,


  • The Laced Angel

    December 30, 2011 at 5:29 AM

    Looking great, but the top straps should end further back than the bottom ones like they do in the drawing. In the prototype, the bottom straps stick out farther back than the top ones and make it look far less elegant.

  • Anonymous

    December 30, 2011 at 5:42 PM

    These are the ones I really really want and I like the shape as it is. But I don't like much the gold buttons. Buttons that would match the shoes color would be much better.

  • Mikey

    January 1, 2012 at 5:42 PM

    I like the toe rounded! I leaves more room for my broad feet…
    I agree with the comment about the top strap that should be farther to the back….
    Will the button be just attached or attached with some elastic material? I love these strap, but have very high instep (?), which could make it difficult for me to wear these at all, so a little elastic holding the buttons might help with that…

    I have to say I don't actually need Edwardian shoes, as I don't have that kind of dress… But I really really like this design…
    Ow and I'd love darker colours for the shoes.. I just so afraid to mess up my shoes with the dyeing and no shoe maker will do it for me 🙁
    Any tips on good leather dyes and how to apply (for dummies) would be very welcome…

  • Angela

    January 1, 2012 at 6:30 PM

    OMG! Enough said? These are awesome! I have a pair of your Devonshires and I can't wait to get them dyed! I will keep my eyes open for the Edwardians! Cheers. ag

  • Lynn

    January 3, 2012 at 4:56 AM

    I agree with the gal above about the gold buttons. They should be leather-covered to match the color of the shoe to be more period-correct. They should also be a flat-top button as opposed to round-top, and sewn tight to the shoe so they won't catch on the lace hemline of lingerie/tea dresses.

  • American Duchess

    January 3, 2012 at 5:02 AM

    Hi Lynn – the buttons and all colors and materials in these photos are placeholders, just for prototyping. The real buttons will be ivory pearl buttons. The round top is period accurate, and seen on the original shoe. If we do a black shoe in addition to the ivory, the buttons will be jet, or shiny black, also round topped. The cool thing, though, is that the buttons can be replaced with any other buttons the same size, for a truly unique look to your shoes 🙂

    Thanks everyone for your comments! The new prototype should be here in the next couple of days, with the changes to the cutwork, strap lengths (so they are in the right positions), an toe. 🙂

  • Katie R

    January 4, 2012 at 7:52 AM

    YES YES YES! Finally some narrower shoes! I will absolutely pre-order them.

    Like others have said, I'd only change the shape of the toe. A pointed toe was an essential feature of women's shoes up until about 1921.

  • Anonymous

    January 4, 2012 at 4:40 PM

    The original inspiration shoe is one of the most beautiful antique shoes in existence! I am so excited that I have the chance to finally own a similar pair that I can customize to match my outfits, even my everyday "modern" clothes! The narrower width, though a concern for wide-footed folks like me, is essential to the symmetry of the shoe. Fortunately, if the leather is good quality, the shoe should stretch and mold a tad to better fit your foot, making it uniquely yours. I am so glad the prototype appears to place the heel closer to the instep. It's nearly impossible to find Louis heels with the proper insetting! The proportion makes the foot appear to be delicately floating on air while providing support. The vamp over the toe box is still cut a tad too high, but overall, the promise of pearl buttons and ivory leather is absolutely enchanting!

  • Marika

    January 9, 2012 at 2:56 AM

    I really want a pair of these when they are ready to be pre-ordered, but I do have a couple of questions.

    I have a size 11-12(depends on company) D width foot and I was wondering if you are going to have them for a wide foot or just the narrow style?
    And, when do you think these will be ready? Halloween maybe?

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