Christian Dior began the Fifties’ New Look, bringing the fashion world back to Paris, but the Italians were a formidable force in shoe fashion. In Italy’s post-war
boom, the shoe factories made many technical and design changes.The light, elegant sandal was the most distinctive creation of the Italians, and the race to
slim down the heel began.
Women’s shoes of the 1950’s were arched, sophisticated and cut away to reveal the maximum of the foot. These were perched atop narrow delicate heels that
only diminished in width as the decade wore on.
In 1950, heels for women were all fairly high. By 1954, however,there were a variety of heights for different occasions and times of day. The stiletto heel
arrived in 1955, with a heel so narrow it appeared pointed. Thisheel was added to court shoes and pumps, punching holes in sidewalks and hotel lobby floors
all over New York until the fashion died out.
In the late 1950’s, lower squat heels began to rival the stiletto, which had reached staggering heights. Flattieswith no heel and a flimsy sole were also popular,
but mostly for indoors or for wear with trousers.
The court shoe also remained, though it was cut very low at the sides and top of the foot, and was almond toed. Gradually, thesealmond shapes became more
pointed, but by 1958, Dior cut the point off these shoes completely to produce the new wedge shape.
In 1955, Givenchy introduced a new shaped court shoe cut straight across the instep, and called it the opera pump. This pump had a lower heel and a wider
toe. Sandalsand muleswere still important in the 1950’s. In 1951 the mules and sling back sandalsshowed the heel of the foot. At the beginning of the
decade, colourand fabric were of little importance to shoe fashion. Shape waseverything. The fabric was usually a smooth leather or soft suede in black or
brown. For evening, colourswere brighter and the uppers were usually of satin.
In 1954, a craze for all things Oriental hit the west, and Turkish slippers in deep hues appeared. These were often embroidered and decorated with gold beads.
Though the craze quickly died, the coloursand fabrics of the 1955 lines show how influential the mood hadbeen. For schoolgirls, the Mary Janewas a very popular style. The shoe had a low heel, and usually had an anklestrap.