“Dunmore” has been a year in the making, starting with references and conversations with Brenda, the head of the Costume Design Center at Williamsburg, along with the ladies of the Milliner’s shop, and resulting in what we feel is a very faithful reproduction of a 1770s style.
This period of footwear is very interesting because it departs in silhouette rather greatly from designs only a decade earlier. Primarily this is in the heel shape, which went from a rather thick and sturdy “French” design to a narrow, almost modern-looking “Italian” heel.
|Shoe Icons, c. 1780s|
|Smithsonian Libraries – illustration of a 1770s-1790s shoe, by T.Watson Greig, 1885|
|Glazed Wool (Calimanco) 1770s-1790s shoes, eBay listing (dead) from fiddybee|
This type of heel provided minimal support with a considerable wedge shape extending under the arch of the foot. The shaped last was no longer in use, and shoes were made as flats with the heels applied, resulting in the wearer being pitched forward and having to adopt a sliding gait. This method of construction would not change for heeled shoes until the late 1880s!
|Two matching shoes, one heeled, one flat – these were made exactly the same, but with different heels applied! Originally from catalogue.drouot.com|
In developing “Dunmore,” we had to consider these issues of original 18th century construction and work around them while maintaining the correct silhouette. Luckily, adding in modern arch support achieves the comfort and balance without altering the design too much. To keep the silhouette, we omitted the toe boxes and created the Italian heel in modern, strong materials, to prevent breakage and instability. I wore Dunmore for our photo shoot last week, and was pleased to find no discomfort or weird balance at all. We went back and forth with the factory several times to make sure the toe was roomy enough without the toe boxes, and the balance of the heel worked.
I’m also incredibly proud to tell you that “Dunmore” will be available to purchase in the shops at Colonial Williamsburg later this year! You will also see them on several interpreters, including the apprentice milliners at the Margaret Hunter Millinery Shop!
Dunmores are available in black wool (which can be waxed to create your own mock-calimanco), or dyeable white sateen, to match your dress. While the pre-order is on, we’re having a sale – your choice of free buckles, free stockings, or a $10 discount, as a “Thank You” for ordering ahead of time.