Glorious 18th Century Mules, and some 19th Century Wanna-Be’s

Marie Antoinette 18th Century Mules
Antoinette mules in French blue

Today is the day to celebrate mules, those pretty little backless, heeled slippers that have been gracing the feet of ladies for hundreds of years.  In honor of our new pre-order release, “Antoinette” 18th Century Mules, here are my references that helped in the design process:

Real 18th Century Mules

MFA, French 18th century – a pair of children’s mules.
The National Trust, 1750 – this pair directly influenced the design of “Antoinette”
The Met, 1710-29 – quite a fun toe shape on these early 18th century mules.
The Met, 1750
Shoe Icons, 1690-1720 – a gorgeous pair of silver embroidered mules with an early date.
Manchester, 1725-50. These have 4 inch heels!
MFA, 1750s – another emroidered satin mule with a pointed vamp. Gorgeous and delicate!
VanA, 1750-60s – another direct influence on the new mules, these lovely little things are embroidered satin with leather-covered heels.

Fake 18th Century Mules (19th Century Wanna-Be’s!)

Between 1869 and 1874, and also around the turn of the 20th century, there was a colonial revival that produced quite a few sweet “retro” shoes, with names like Moliere, Cromwell, Puritan, Mayflower, and Marie Antoinette.  These shoes, mules included, took their styling from original 18th century examples, yet still somehow came out looking oh-so-Victorian/Edwardian.  Here are the poseurs:

The Met, 1890 – 1920 – gorgeous embroidered green satin with white kid covering the heels. YUM!
The Met, 1900-1915 – this powder blue pair was a direct influence on the blue Antoinettes, and served as the inspiration for the embroidery design too.

Shoe Icons, 1880
Etsy Seller BellaSoiree – the heel shape and application indicates that these are 19th century, but they’re good “fakes” if they fool us these days!

I wonder if a hundred years from now historians might look at the Antoinette mules the way we’re looking at these 19th century mules right now.  It seems unfair to call them “fakes,” haha, but I do feel a weird connection with the designers who created these a century ago, and wonder if they felt that same drive to get as close as possible to the original Georgian examples.

Antoinette 18th Century Mules
So as you can see, our little Antoinettes can be worn from about 1700 all the way through the 1760s and early 70s, but may *also* be worn for late Victorian and Edwardian too.  Talk about versatile!  What’s even cooler is that you can over-dye the pink or the blue to get a different shade, using the sweet International Fabric Dyes we just got in the shop – so imagine these in scarlet red, a deep royal blue, or a brilliant turquoise.

One Comment

  • Danielle

    November 8, 2013 at 10:29 PM

    I love these!!! They're so pretty! What would these have typically been worn with? Are these shoes that would have just been worn inside the house or could they have been worn out with fancy dress?

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