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The oldest pair on show date back to Ancient Egypt, while more contemporary designs show that advancements in technology and 3D printing have pushed the bounds of what is technically possible to achieve with footwear.
As an object the shoe has transformed from its functional origins to become wearable art.
Although the chopine was highly gendered and extreme shoes were more usually associated with women, men were, historically, also avid heel wearers, as Rebecca Shawcross reveals in her historical overview of shoes.
This was epitomised perfectly by France’s King Louis XIV, whose red-heeled shoes became an emblem of political allegiance: aristocrats wore red heels to demonstrate their allegiance to the King.
Naomi Braithwaite does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.
The introduction of fetish shoes in the late 19th century brought another dimension to the painful but pleasurable experience of shoes.
These historic examples of shoes may seem extreme and even ridiculous.
But they were all designed and worn to reflect a range of different cultural and social meanings.
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View the full list Shoes long ago eclipsed their primary function – to protect feet.Fast forward a few hundred years and the somewhat barbaric nature of the shoe was far from forgotten.In 1937 Magritte painted The Red Model, which exemplified the rather unnatural relationship between shoes and the foot.In 1430 the Venetian Major Council forbade the wearing of chopines that were more than three and a half inches in height.