Sunday, 20 March 2016

Chopine Research

Several weeks of social obligations doesn't leave much time for blogging, so I'm going to update briefly on a project that's been running in the background. 

For a long while I've wanted to make myself a pair of chopines - that is, the original Italian high heel. I didn't really know where to start to find out information on them, despite numerous online articles I wanted to be able to verify some of the information for myself. I turned to my local library and ordered anything that seemed even remotely historic footwear related. Unfortunately, this wasn't terribly successful, but I did find out a few things from the books that turned up.

The Seductive Show: Four Centuries of Fashion Footwear by Jonathan Walford, Thames & Hudson - alas, this is the four centuries I'm not currently interest in, and gave only a brief mention of chopines and 16th century footwear. I could see myself coming back to it if I wanted to look into 18th or 19th century items in more detail.

Shoes: The Complete Sourcebook by John Peacock, Thames & Hudson - Filled with colourful illustrations followed by line drawings and a brief description, this might be a good book for someone who wanted ideas for what style to go for. But this book surprised me by having no references for the shoes that were studied. I had been hoping for something rather solid, a museum reference perhaps for pieces examined. Granted, there is a "sources for shoes" bibliography in the back which can lead me further on in this quest, so at least I have that.

A History of Show Fashion by Eunice Wilson - this was a little more interesting. This book had a whole (10 page) chapter dedicated to chopines and their evolution. It also had an interesting little snippet that has me rethinking what I thought I knew about chopines:
"most had mules attached into which the stockinged foot slipped; but others had real shoes attached which fastened over the instep. This was largely the difference between the chopine and the patten..the latter was held on by straps fastening over a separate shoe".
Chopines as footwear without a separate slipper? Now that is a completely different approach to one I had considered before, but makes an awful lot of sense.

This is clearly only the tip of the iceberg for these shoes - I'd still like to see some definite cork examples given how much I've seen the phrase "wood and cork were used to make chopines", especially as I have cork blocks waiting to be carved for my own shoes. And to see some more ideas on the slipper or no slipper idea.

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