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Venice, 15th century. It’s a gorgeous city, but has a tendency to get a bit waterlogged, so you wear clogs to keep your clothes out of the mud. Next thing you know, you’re half a metre off the ground.

Chopine

Rama & the Shoe Museum in Lausanne [CC BY-SA 2.0 fr], via Wikimedia Commons


The chopine of Renaissance Venice (and also Spain) was an epic affair, a shoe that just kept getting taller and taller as fashion and status dictated. The tallest examples were in fact half a metre (20 inches) high, leading to ladies towering over everyone else as they wobbled down the street.

You needed servants to put it on; Shakespeare made fun of it; laws were passed to keep it under control. Evidently you could dance in them, if you practiced. But I wouldn’t try it myself.

Categories: Arts & recreation Early modern history Europe Fashion & design History Places

The Generalist

I live in Auckland, New Zealand, and am curious about most things.

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