Friday, October 16, 2015

Les Talons Louis XV / The Heels of Louis XV

Do I need another reason to love Paris? Mais non! But Paris, the world's greatest lover, keeps trying to please and please it does! On my walk home from the Right Bank, I spotted this sign in the most elegant of shoe repair shops. Actually, to call it a "repair" shop doesn't do it justice-- more a restoration/artisanal atelier of the highest standards. I stood staring at the beautiful red leather banquette sofas in the showroom, the polished marble floors, the gilded antique mirrors, and the perfectly appointed chandelier lighting. The shoes that had been restored were displayed in the window along with a series of Louis XV heels --their specialty.  How could I help myself from falling in love with Paris a little bit more?

Louis XV reigned from 1715-1774.  He loved heels, especially red ones (it was very expensive to get the leather colored this perfect red)  and only he or those men in good standing with him were allowed to wear them.  He was especially fond of paste buckle ornamentation and embroidery.  The large paste buckles were considered important enough to be sold separately and in beautiful velvet boxes like jewelry.   He insisted on the highest of heels and demanded that everyone else in the court wear heels lower than his.  While men generally abandoned heels around 1730, Louis' shoe style continues to influence us today as seen in the Manolo Blahnik and Marc Jacob shoes below.  

 As a note of personal history, when I married Alain, I chose a beige silk hand-made shoe with a Louis XV heel. When I turned 40, I had a pair of Louis XV leather shoes made in England for Alain for our 18th century party complete with buckle and red heel. When the Marc Jacob's shoe came out (he called it the Pilgrim shoe), I had to own a pair.  And my love for paste buckles, well, that list goes on and on.... Without knowing much about this shoe style early on, I have been drawn to it since I can remember.  Maybe the clairvoyant was right when she told me that in another life I was a popular French politician who was known for strolling the Luxembourg Gardens in Paris to greet his people. If this is true, then everything makes sense!  Merci Louis for the perfect heel and another reason to love Paris!