The History of Shoes

Edition 1: Mules

In this first edition of series where we would be looking at history of shoes, we have Mules. Did you know man started wearing foot wear since Palaeolithic ages? Well, it was only raw hide initially but as civilization ushered and skills dawned upon, we became experts!

Shoes were often confined to royalties in ancient times – those were often studded with precious gems and embroidered with Gold and Silver. Talking of laymen and people in general, different types of shoes were used by people and for most part of human time it has remained as a basic necessity and for protection. Times have changed now and we have shoes for each hour of the day! Today we are all #shoeaddicts, aren’t we? Life is certainly more interesting now! 

Mulleus Calceus

Definitely not! If you think it is about some Gothic novel villain. Mules were referred to as Mulleus Calceus in Ancient Rome where it was reserved for only a certain few. Mule, in French means slipper - a style of shoe that is backless and often at that period of time was closed toe. Even if you had galleons mingling in your pocket – you would not have had that, it was worn only by high rank officials and those in authority.

Next time you look at a pair of Mules – be thankful for we live in a more equal world! The Mule has always gathered background of sensuality and luxury – painted by Post Baroque and Rococo artists on ladies in their retiring room/boudoirs. ‘Pattens’ –cover for the expensive mules were used to protect the delicate and expensive shoes. Men, as well as women, wore slip-on indoor slides known as mules, which were available in a variety of materials and colors and featured a slightly flared heel. The association with luxury kept the Mule alive and later in the 20’th century the fashion trickled down concubines and prostitutes – in an imitation of the affluent. Later, Marilyn Monroe and Jayne Russell made it a statement from Hollywood. Jayne, is seldom noticed without her mules in all photographs that exist to date. She wore them in movies to personal outings and press photos.

In recent history, Manolo Blahnik recreated Marie Antoinette’s spectacular shoe wardrobe for Sofia Coppola and Kirsten Dunst’s movie about the French queen of decadence and trend setter in 2006. Mules have been a subject of personalization, designing and branding for shoe-makers since 20’th century. We can literally mark out a brand from the style of mule on display. They are back into the trend as we end the second decade of this millennia – and here we are with Mary Jane version, the see through clear straps version, Reinforced canvas version, vegan leather version and croc printed Polyurethane version. We also have embroidered, surface embellished, and block print mules.

Today they have moved out of French Boudoirs to 21’s century landscapes, into closet of working women and being not-so delicate now comes naturally to them. In variety of styles, designs Mules are here to charm us again.

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