Meet our New Theatrical Footwear Line!

American Duchess Spring/Summer 2019 Theatrical Line

We are trying lots of new things this year in shoe-company-land. For years we have (rather unexpectedly) supplied historical footwear to the opera, ballet, and theater, shoeing many fantastic performers in all sorts of productions from Broadway, to university theaters, to community stage.

This was quite by accident. When I started American Duchess in 2011 it was to make shoes for reenactors and costumers. It never entered my mind that the entertainment industry also needed accurate shoes. I will admit I didn’t know anything at all about the unique needs of Broadway…until last Spring when I went backstage at a popular Broadway show and got a real talking to by the associate costume designer on what we were missing in our shoe designs.

Long story short, that conversation (and a lot of research) has developed into our first theatre-specific line. We’ve worked in quick rigging and flexibility wherever possible while sticking to the historical shapes and flavors that make an American Duchess shoe special. Here’s a bit about our first new styles…

Follies T-Straps

The Follies T-Straps in tan by American Duchess – modeled here by the incredible Bathtub Ginnys in New York City. Photo by Jane Kratochvil

These are our basic-but-baller character shoe. The Follies are an all-leather t-strap with unsealed sueded leather* flex soles with short shanks.

American Duchess “Follies” T-Straps in black

Follies have a buckle strap, but we have also sourced quick-rig hardware for productions who like to use the hook method for fast backstage changes. Additionally, the t-strap loop is elastic where it attaches to the cross-foot strap, which will wear without stretching out for much longer.

Follies on Follies – Bathtub Ginnys perform in American Duchess “Follies” T-Straps in New York City. Photo by Jane Kratochvil.

The Follies heel is our wonderfully-balanced 2.5 inch Spanish heel. They come in standard black and medium tan. These are great for dance and performance, but can also be worn as a general 1920s era shoe just all the time.

Garrick 18th Century Theatrical Shoes

In a quick-change setting, there’s just no time to unfasten and re-fasten your authentic 18th century buckle shoes. The solution? Velcro!

American Duchess “Garrick” 18th Century Theatrical Shoes – quick rigged and flexible with faux buckles.

Our Garrick 18th Century Theatrical Shoes feature a velcro latchet closure with a pair of gold slide buckles included. These falsie buckles slide onto the top latchet and easily stick in place.

Additionally, Garricks have hidden elasticated sides under the latchet seams, unsealed sueded leather* flex soles with short shanks, comfy toe boxes, and a curvaceous and stable 2.5 inch Pompadour heel.

Velcro straps and slide buckles, paired with elastic insets and flexible sueded soles make Garrick the quintessential theatrical shoe for 18th century productions.

Garricks come in black or dyeable ivory leather. They are extremely flexible, accessible, and attractive.

A bonus of the Garricks is that none of the quick-rigging is visible from the outside. Those with arthritis, limited mobility, and other difficulties will find Garricks a beautiful, comfortable, and accessible option for all sorts of 18th century costuming, dance, presentation, and performance.

A peak inside Garrick Theatrical 18th century shoes – you can see the elastic insets here, invisible from the outside. These, along with the short-shanked flex soles, allow these unique shoes to flex and point.

Bernhardt Theatrical Victorian Boots

The last of our theatrical offerings this season is the incredible Bernhardt boot. We’ve created an all-leather, curvaceous Victorian style boot with a roomy toe box, 2.5 inch Pompadour heel, and the appearance of a fully laced-up style benefiting from the interior side zipper for quick and easy on-and-off.

Bernhardt Victorian Theatrical Boots by American Duchess – quick rigged with an interior zipper and round elastic laces.

The Bernhardts also have the unsealed sueded leather soles* paired with rigid shanks, a roomy toe box, and a tight fit through the ankle (it’s all in that back seam curve, yo). The elastic laces allow for flex and stretch when dancing, and also aid in the perfect fit.

Interior side zippers get these bodacious Victorian boots on and off quickly.

Lacing up a pair of boots with 15+ sets of eyelets is time consuming and inaccessible to many with arthritis and mobility issues. Bernhardts, like Garricks, are splendid for easy dressing and look wonderful and discreet beneath your petticoats.

American Duchess “Bernhardt” Theatrical Victorian Boots – va va voom!

We hope you’re as excited about the new theatrical line as we are! Remember, while these shoes are made for the stage, they are certainly “real” footwear and can be worn all the time.* We put as much care, attention, design, and love into our theatrical shoes as our historic reproductions, and you’ll find the same level of quality and comfort.

*For outdoor wear we highly recommend either applying rubber (or having it applied at a shoe repair), painting your soles with an acrylic-based sealer, or regularly applying mink oil conditioner to the soles to keep water from soaking in. Unsealed sueded soles are epic for dancing, but it’s important to keep them away from the wet, as the raw leather is absorbent. The above treatments will help your shoes last much longer for outdoor wear.

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