Friday, June 26, 2015

Friday, June 12, 2015

Wet look, patent leather and nude shoes

Patent leather nude coloured shoes with 3 inch stacked heels are all the rage and the ‘Nudies’ retail at approx $300 (US) per pair. Obviously wardrobe malfunctions and shoe damage need to be avoided as all fashionista know and care is necessary negotiating uneven sidewalks and steps. This aside nude has become a trendy colour for shoes.

In fashion-speak, "nude" refers to a kind of pink-beige-coffee blend but in the interests of political correctness (PC) the nude range covers pale ivory to deep chocolate. Shoes matching skin tone gives the leg the appearance of extra length and where the perfect match is not possible, spray tan is recommended.

Nude shoe aside it is patent leather which history has shown is very risqué and was much cause for concern when conservative groups discovered the mirror like surface allowed boys to see up girls’ skirts when they wore patent leather shoes. The up-skirter shoes predate electronic cameras by at least a century and only go to prove nothing changes when it comes to sex. Such concern was expressed in the early 20th century patent leather shoes were banned in some States of the US.

In the sixties when “The Wet Look” prevailed so called experts feared a plague of undinism (sexual arousal from urine) was abroad.

Patent leather which describes the gloss finish on the leather as opposed to a type of hide was developed in 1818. The leather protection ensured dressier looking footwear which could easily be kept clean with a cloth. It was invented in Newark, New Jersey by Seth Boyden and involved coating the leather with linseed oil. Now the process involves plastic coating which makes the mass production of patent leather cheaper.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Shoes and Sex : The expose

The foot and shoe are inexorably linked to sex. In ancient Greece for example sex workers would write 'Follow me' backwards on their sandals so clients could recognise and discreetly engage their services out of public view. A common practice in Spain in the past was to finish a letter with “Que besa su peis" or may she (he) kiss your feet.

In more recent times the advent of seamless stockings without a heel reinforcement brought the sling back to fashion and coupled with the stiletto heel gave the world its sexiest fetishist icon since the Victorian corset.

Fetishism may be defined as a form of behaviour wherein sexual activity or sexual fantasy focuses to an unusual extent upon a body part or an inanimate object rather than a person as a whole. The fetish object as in this case the foot or shoe does not have to give gratification in any genital sense but may merely provide the means to appreciate an attractive object with all the senses. Fetishist behaviours lie on a continuum and most would pass for normal, if not, for slightly unusual behaviour. To that extent we are all fetishist.

High level fetishism is where specific stimuli take the place of a sex partner and pathological fetishism arises where the person suffers excessive guilt feelings from their behaviour. More common in males than females many experts believe foot fetishism is not the result of conditioning alone but may be found in individuals with a predilection in their left brain. Society preconditions us into accepting normal (usually heterosexual) sexual behaviour, alienating all other others. Hence much of what passes as deviant behaviours such as fetishism and cross dressing (although commonly practiced) is seldom spoken off.

Performance anxiety is a male fear that is hard to conceal, one theory about fetishism is that it allows the male to concentrate on an inanimate object rather than their feared partner. The Roman poet Ovid was devoted to the charms of the foot and in Norse mythology Kormak when he saw Steinberg’s ankles became infatuated with that part of the female anatomy. The choice of fetish objects are far from random however and although they may like feet, legs or buttocks. Many favour toes, arches, heels, ankles, calves, knees or thighs. Large or small feet, shapely well formed feet or rough peculiar ones as well as ones in shoes or bare feet, all have their attractions.

To understand fetishism requires the analysis of the object into three elements i.e. the sensory attributes; association elements; and symbolism. High heeled boots may for example present visually a strong female image imprinted from early childhood. The infant crawling across the carpet will see and judge people by their feet and shoes. In some with the appropriate predilection this may have sexual connotations in later life. High heeled footwear may have strong associations with adult women or sophisticated and sexually aware individuals. To men with certain communication difficulties, especially relating to sexual relations, the sight of high heels may allow them to relax and ease tensions. The shoes may also have strong symbolic meaning such as representing an authority ready to meet out discipline. Any one or all three may prove stimulating to the foot/shoe fetishist.

Many authorities consider fetishism and transvestism as having similar characteristics but distinctly are two separate sets of behaviour. Dressing for pleasure does make some people feel different and although most foot fetishists participate in normal relations their arousal is often contingent upon fantasies of feet or the actual wearing of the shoes. Informed commentators consider men with foot fetishism are sometimes unable to deal with the complete women. Understanding partners once aware of the harmless fetish will oblige by displaying or wearing the object of desire. Some well known men of letters have privately been foot fetishists: Restif de La Bretonne (1734-1806) in his diaries revels himself as a shoe voyeur, stealer and collector. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832) was a German poet, dramatist, novelist, and scientist. Affectionately known as "Mr Bigfoot" by his lover, Christine Vulpius, it was documented he wrote her begging for her dancing shoes, so that he could have them to press against his heart. Victor Hugo (1802-1885) French poet, dramatist, novelist enjoyed foot fetishism as did Feodor Mikkhailovich Dostoyevski (1821-1881) Russian novelist. Author of Crime and Punishment, The Idiot, The Brothers Karamazov his works were often preoccupied with guilt and religious faith.

George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) the Anglo-Irish poet and critic was reputed to be a celebrated foot fetishist and lived for sometime in a London Square overlooking the London Foot Hospital. He coined the immortal words 'If you rebel against high heeled shoes, take care to do so in a very smart hat'. US novelist F Scott Fitzgerald (1896- 1940) was also a fellow foot fetishist and very attracted to female feet. He did however hate the sight of his own feet and tried never to let anyone see them naked. Some men have fantasies about being crushed and view women as huge giants crushing insignificant men underfoot. Shoes provide tactile stimuli for women but although many women are retifists (collect shoes) seldom does their obsession parallel male fetishists.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Cordwainer or Cobbler ?: What's the difference

The term cordwainer comes from the French word for shoe-maker, cordonnier and is derived from the old French form cordouanier, referring to the cordovan leather. Cordovan leather was supple and brightly coloured (red) produced in Cordoba (Spain) from the 9th century onwards. Cordwainer appeared in the English language after the Norman invasion of England in 1066. By the late 13th century Cordwainers were divided between alutari, who used only alum "tawed" cordwain, and basanarii, who used an inferior "tanned" sheepskin which was only used for long boots.

The first English guild of shoemakers called themselves "Cordwainers" and was founded 1131 in Oxford. London shoemakers organized a guild before 1160, and the Worshipful Company of Cordwainers received their first Ordinances in 1272. The Cordwainer only works with new leather whereas a Cobbler works with old leather. At first Cobblers were frequently prohibited by law from making shoes although they would collect worn-out shoes cut them up and remanufacture cheap shoes. By the 16th century Cordwainers and cobblers merged.

Cordoba, in the south of Spain, was a stronghold of the mighty Omeyyad Kalifs until its fall in the 12th century. Moorish Cordoba produced cordouan (cordovan) leather, called "cordwain" in England. Originally made from the skin of the Musoli goat from Corsica, Sardinia, the leather was "tawed" with alum after a method known only to the Moors. English Crusaders introduced the English shoemakers to the finest leather. Finest Cordovan leather was prized for bright red colours and elegant shoes made from this material. Nowadays cordouan, or cordovan leather, has been applied to several varieties of leather.

Cordovan leather today is a "vegetable tanned" horse "shell," and like the Medieval cordwain is used only for the highest quality shoes.

Tastiania were boots and shoes made from goat skin. They were Greek in origin and date from late Antiquity onwards. Tastianuia are thought by many experts to have influenced European footwear in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries and may well have been taken to Cordoban. By the 15th century cordovan leather remained high in demand during the height of the Burgundian dominance over Northern European. The Burgundian party was a political allegiance in France that formed during the reign of Charles VI (1368-1422) during the latter half of the Hundred Years War. According to Gay (1887) The King of France owned 131 pairs of chausses seamless (hose with soles) with long whalebone-stiffened poulaines; 189 pairs of slippers in white, black, and red; 109 bottines (ankle boots); two pairs of high boots; and six pairs of soft high boots to wear at night.

Interesting Sites
What Is A Cordwainer And What Is Their Background?
The Corporation of London
Ward of Cordwainer Club