Friday, April 28, 2017

Georgian Shoes in Transition

After a five year search, I recently became the proud owner of a pair of charming and delicate Boston-made, Neoclassical slip-on shoes. The silk satin shoes feature embroidery at toe and are a good example of a ‘transitional’ shoe – moving from the earlier 18th century Rococo style with its focus on bold floral patterns, densely embellished silk brocades, often adorned with metallic threads or metallic lace and spangles, and a weighty French (or Louis) heel. Whereas shoes from the earlier Georgian time period featured long straps and were attached via buckles – which ranged from simple paste stones to actual gems—these shoes would have slipped on. A small, thin tie or string, runs through a narrow channel at the top of the shoe.
Note the buckle shoes with their straps, compared to the transitional Boston-made shoes
By the mid-1780s, politics in a post-Revolutionary age made an appearence in fashion circles, as light cotton and muslin dresses with high waists and columnar shapes held sway in the assemblies and drawings rooms, echoing the look of ancient Greece and Rome. The same visual language was present in shoes made between 1785-1790s– lighter color palette, limited ornament, smaller heels and an architectonic quality. By the close of the 18th century, flats will take precedence in Regency/Empire/Neoclassical fashion, a trend which will continue into the mid-19th century.

The cream silk satin shoes shown were made in Boston by P. Gull and feature chain stitch embroidery at the toes, with what was known as an Italian heel. 
They were photographed on site at the John Paul Jones House, Portsmouth Historical Society, February 2017.
A similar transitional shoe, courtesy

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