Elton John’s Ferradini Platforms Italian, 1972-1975 The 1970s saw many fashionable men reintroducing heels into their wardrobes. Celebrities like Elton John strutted on stage in outrageous outfits and high glittering heels such as this pair but more conservative men also paired higher heeled shoes with their suits.
Oh yes! Men too wore heels, once upon a time and to chronicle this, Toronto’s Bata Shoe Museum announced its upcoming exhibition, Standing Tall: The Curious History of Men in Heels, opening to the public on May 8, 2015.
As the official exhibition to launch the Museum’s 20th anniversary year, Standing Tall will challenge preconceived notions about who wears heels and why. From privileged rulers to hyper-sexualized rock stars this provocative exhibition will explore the history of men in heels from the early 1600s to today, delving into the use and meanings of heeled footwear in men’s dress over the last four hundred years.
While today, the thought of a man in heels is met with disbelief and amazement, invoking images of indiscretion and being different, it hasn’t always been this way. “When heels were introduced into fashion at the turn of the 17th century, men were the first to adopt them and they continued wearing heels as expressions of power and prestige for over 130 years,” said Elizabeth Semmelhack, Senior Curator, Bata Shoe Museum. “Even after they fell from men’s fashion in the 1730s, there were pockets of time when heels were reintegrated into the male wardrobe not as a way of challenging masculinity but rather as a means of proclaiming it”.
While some lifestyles today continue to accept men dressing in heels; the rugged cowboy in heeled boots is the perfect example, for most men even an extra inch on a pair of business brogues can prove to be highly destabilizing; calling their masculinity and intentions into question. But with the advantages of height currently connected to everything from higher pay to increased desirability, the real question is why don’t men wear heels?
So Guys would you still wear heels?
Master John Platform Boots Canadian, designed and made by Master John, 1973 The Toronto shoemaker Master John made these men’s platform boots complete with a five and a half inch high heels, appliquéd stars, and veritable landscape in leather. In the 1970s, some men followed the lead of rock stars in adopting lavish personal adornment and elevating shoes cultivating a persona at once dandyish and hyper-masculine
Jackboot English, c. 1690-1710 Ever since the introduction of the heel in Western dress in the late 16th century, heels on riding boots have been a matter of both fashion and function. This sturdy boot from the turn of the 18th century features a high stacked leather heel.
Men’s Mules English, c. 1690-1715. This pair of men’s mules features high flared heels in keeping with turn of the 18th century fashion. The red leather covering the high heels was meant to bring attention to them and also a conveyed a sense of continental sophistication as red heels were famously worn in the court of French King XIV.
Uzbeki Riding Shoe Afghanistan, 1850 These 19th century Uzbeki riding shoes are a good example of the type of heeled shoe from Western Asia which would have pre-dated the use of the heel in Western fashion.
Cowboy boots American, Tony Lama, late 20th century. Cowboy boots are icons of rugged individualism and masculinity, qualities that they are able to convey even though they feature heels of significant height. The cowboy emerged in the West after the Civil War pushing cattle to railheads in the 1860s to 1880s. Their time on the open range was short lived and their numbers were few but their image and the boots are seared in our imaginations
See more at: www.batashoemuseum.ca