Deceptively simple, these c.1850 woven flats feature a bold geometric pattern in black and white. The stylized floral motifs are in black set off against a white ground. Worn by members of the Abbott-Goodwin Family of Massachusetts they are in the Collection of Ms. Jean Demetracopoulos. Garments and accessories from the family have been on view at the Colonel Paul Wentworth House since July 2012. (See earlier posts.)
While searching for examples of historic garments and shoes, the pair of shoes pictured below (on www.vintagetextile.com) caught my attention. The information notes: "Silk faille shoes from a Woodstock, CT. Estate, c.1830-1850." (Sorry, folks, they have been purchased according to the website!) While the geometry and stylized motifs are not as powerful in the Connecticut pair, they certainly share a sensibility. It is of course, not surprising to find such similar pairs of shoes during the industrial age of factory or partial factory production, but they are intriguing nonetheless. Most likely from New England, the flats may speak to an aesthetic mindset as well.
Locating two pairs of strikingly similar flats also underscores the value of digital age imagery for scholarly research - it would have been unlikely that two pairs of shoes from private collections would have found their way so quickly onto the same page for comparison even a decade ago.
Two contemporary updates:
Oliva-Morris-Erin Canvas Ballet Flats
Black and White Damask Wedding Ballet Flats (from Wedding by Color, Labrum Wedding, below)