|“Stratford” Elizabethan Shoes – a collaboration by historical cordwainer Francis Classe and American Duchess|
I realize lately that many of you may not know my story of how I got into making historical footwear.
Back in 2010, my now-husband Mr. C and I were both freelance creatives – I did illustration, and he did photographer. Not a whole lot was going on with, y’know, getting paid for those services, and the electricity was turned off more than once because we were struggling badly.
At the same time, I was costuming and blogging. Each time I finished a dress, I would stress over what shoes I was going to put with it, because nothing I had was really correct. I was worried about what others would say, and I personally felt that my hard work on the dress itself was tarnished by my poor shoe choices.
I thought that others were surely having this problem with shoes too, and wondered if I could find a way to get some made. So I started asking my blog followers what they thought, and looking for manufacturers, finally finding someone who would make these weird, old-fashioned shoes for a decent price.
|The original satin “Georgiana” from 2011|
It was important to me that these were shoes that were both beautiful and comfortable, historically accurate, and available nowhere else. There seemed to be a huge lack of pretty-pretty-princess shoes, so that’s what I set out to design, starting with just one dyeable satin 18th century pump, which we called “Georgiana” after the Duchess of Devonshire.
The day we opened the pre-order, I was gobsmacked by the response from the costuming community: through our own crowd-funding website, overnight we sold enough “Georgianas” to do the production run. By the end of the 3-week pre-order period, we’d sold 230 pairs. I remember thinking that first night, “this is what I’m going to do with my life now.”
|Claremont, the “youngest” shoe we’ve made – from the 1930s|
Fast forward three years, and I’m astonished still at the wonderful support of the community. We’ve certainly had our trials – factory changes, design improvements, trips across the world – but I could never have imagined being able to offer over thirty styles of historical shoes, a line of 18th century shoe buckles, and a selection of beautiful silk stockings.
From day one, the mission has always been the same: to design historically accurate shoes that are gorgeous, comfortable, and exactly what YOU want. Your shoes should make you feel glamorous and irreproachably correct in your period impression, while not inhibiting you from enjoying your events.
|The latest version of the dyeable “Georgiana,” which has been improved in silhouette, materials, and durability.|
We will always strive to create grace and beauty for you, and allow you to explore the past through clothing, keeping history alive one step at a time.
With Much Love and Gratitude,