Shoe, noun. 1. An outer-covering for the foot, usually made up of a stiff bottom sole, a thicker heel, and an upper section covering all or part of the top of the foot.
A simple noun, it may be, but shoes have become much more than a basic item of clothing in the 40,000 years or so of their existence. Footwear, for some reason, has always been the creme de la creme of fashion; it's been glorified and iconicized in pop culture (think Dorothy's ruby slippers in The Wizard of Oz or Carrie Bradshaw's Manolo Blahnik infatuation in Sex and the City), it's been associated with sexuality and intimacy (is there anything more arousing than a woman wearing a pair of stilettos?), and it's "surpassed the 'it' bag," according to Colleen Hill, associate curator of accessories at the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology, becoming the world's, particularly women's, most coveted (and readily purchased) accessory. The Shoe Book (Assouline, June 2014), highlights this rich history, examining every variety of footwear, from ballet flats to espadrilles, flips-flops to Birkenstocks. "The right shoe can make everything different," designer Jimmy Choo once said. Below, see an array of footwear that have played a role in transforming the shoe into the highly-coveted accessory we know, and love, today.
Left: Daphne Guinness at the Met Gala, New York, 2011.