Adolf Loos lived at the turn of the century in Vienna. He was not only a renowned architect and designer but an opinionated social critic on everything from Austrian cuisine to women’s clothing.
In an article entitled, “Fußbekleidung,” Loos comments on how footwear reflects historical changes in lifestyles. “If you go to New York, you always get the feeling that an accident has occurred somewhere.” He writes that when people walked less, “high platform heels came to reign, which were indeed fit for the park and castle but not for the street.” He goes on to state (over one hundred years ago(!)), “… in this century, the human foot is going through a change. Our social circumstances demand that we be faster from year to year. Time is money.”
Oh yes, Herr Loos. Time is indeed money. Then as now. And for this reason, shoes change. So I (humbly) pose the question, what does this mean for the stiletto?
“Stiletto, how did she get to stilettos?” you ask.
Fact is, two manuscripts I critiqued this past year for guy friends contained smart, sassy career women who waltzed about their demanding day jobs in stilettos. When I suggested that these authors tone down their mantasies by at least having these women place their stilettos in their purses and simply whip them out for short periods of time, to bash the bad guy over the head, for example, my suggestions were met with scoffs and eye rolls. (Granted, I couldn’t see these otherwise very talented and sensible writers but I knew. I just knew).
So what is the stiletto appeal?
They’re definitely not cheap, comfortable or practical (the Zalando guy delivering them would never be caught dead wearing them). And they definitely do not reflect the typical modern woman’s lifestyle of running from daycare to work to the grocery store, back to daycare, soccer practice and home to cook dinner. Do all that in shoes tall enough to help you step over a tall building in a single bound, and you are liable to face some of the problems explored in this very enlightening article on the topic entitled appropriately enough, “High Heel Horrors“. I mean, bunions, bony growths, back pain, hammertoes – that’s sexy?!
No, really. Be honest now.
Loos predicted in his article that, “Lace shoes will dominate the coming century, like the riding boots did the last.” He was right about that. It makes me wonder what he would have written about the stilettos. Somehow a part of me fears he would have preferred them as well.