8 / 1998

Velvet and cork chopine * Renaissance * 1420 - 1600 A.D.

In the transition period from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance around 1500 A.D. many political, religious and social changes took place. Shoes became rounder shaped again and more attention was paid to the protection of shoes against dirty roads and damage. The need to protect expensive footwear was already felt for the poulaines of the Gothic Age (1200 - 1420 A.D.). At first this problem was solved by the creation of pattens: wooden elevated clogs bound under the shoes to avoid direct contact with the roads. Around 1400 however, Spanish court ladies wore high stilt shoes probably influenced by Islamic "alcorques", which were shoes with high cork soles. In 1494 the "chopine" was born in Venice, Italy. These mules on very high platforms raised feet and skirts above the mud. They sometimes were so high and unstable that women had to be supported by their servants during walking.

Research and text by : W.A.H.M. Habraken-Oosterhout-Holland
Illustration by : Colin Ball - Waalwijk - Holland