Manufacture and Materials

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.

The stiletto heel – a tall, slim heel with a metal spike embedded in the centre for strength – was perhaps the most recognisable innovation in footwear in the 50’s.

Leather was popular after the war rations ceased, but it was being rivalled by new, synthetic materials. Plastics began to replace leather for women’s shoes as early as 1958, and by the late 60’s, the vast majority of shoes were made of a material other than leather.