Shoe Innovations: A Celebration of 60 Styles

Caroline Cox, Author
Caroline Cox. Firefly, $29.95 trade paper with French flaps (256p) ISBN 978-1-77085-034-7
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British fashion historian Cox (Hair and Fashion) turns her attention to the history of shoe design in this frequently fascinating study. Divided into centuries, Cox's account begins with the first footwear, sandals, and works her way forward, touching on minor but practical modifications (the higher tops on moccasins which prevented them from getting waterlogged) and major stylistic innovations (platforms, tennis shoes, and cowboy boots) that influenced fashion as well as culture. Packed with references to style icons like Lady Gaga, Twiggy, Vivienne Westwood, and Audrey Hepburn, the book is an informative summation of the physiological and sociological role of footwear. Readers will quickly realize that virtually every entry, from 2,000 year-old gladiator sandals to flip-flops (which date back to ancient Egypt) has inspired modern design; Cox includes contemporary examples of every style, so the absence of any is glaring. For instance, the first slippers were "among the most decorative of footwear types" in the 18th century but she offers no images from that period, showcasing modern variations instead. This approach may disappoint fashion historians but those interested in fashion theory as well as the sociological influences of footwear will find this terrific resource one they'll want to keep close. (Nov.)
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