The French fashion designer Christian Louboutin once said: “The stiletto is a feminine weapon that men just don’t have.” He may have been right about stilettos, but did you know that men were, in fact, the first to wear heels?
Click start to play today’s shoe-inspired Word Search and spot all the different kinds of footwear!
Most shoe styles came about because there was a certain necessity for them. In the 10th century, men required heels in their boots so that they could stay in their stirrups. It’s why cowboys today still wear boots with heels. In fact, rather than indicating gender, heels signified high social standing – only aristocrats owned horses, so only they would wear heels.
Similarly, in ancient Greece, when thespians would stage plays, aspects of their costumes would help the audience identify their characters. According to the US-based John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, tragic actors would wear shoes called “buskins” or raised platform shoes to symbolise their superiority over comic actors, who would usually just wear socks.
The razor-thin stiletto, however, has no specific purpose other than to look fabulous. A 20th-century invention, the stiletto took off when fashion designers like Salvatore Ferragamo and Roger Vivier created shoes with the narrow heel in the late 1940s. American actress Marilyn Monroe often wore four-inch Ferragamo heels, which helped her hone her famous seductive walk.
A designer who took the stiletto to new heights in fashion – Louboutin – actually did it on an impulse. In 1993, he wanted to design a shoe based on Andy Warhol’s “Flowers” lithograph. When he saw the prototype that arrived from Italy – a pink stacked heel with a cartoonish fabric blossom – he felt there was something missing. According to a 2011 article in The New Yorker, Louboutin said: “The drawing still was stronger and I could not understand why.”
He then noticed “the big black sole” and, looking for something to edit out its bleak blackness, he spotted an assistant who was painting her nails. Louboutin grabbed the nail polish and slathered it onto the prototype. Can you guess the colour? Red, of course. The result was a gamechanger for Louboutin, and his trademark red-soled stilettos. And the rest is history.
Play today’s Word Search and let us know your favourite type of shoes at firstname.lastname@example.org.