2 / 2006

Germany - Man's leather "Cow mouth" with red silk lining - 16th Century

Another sensuous male shoe that made its mark in erotic pedic history was known as the Duckbill, Bear's paw or Cow mouth, with extremely wide toe parts of sometimes twelve inches or more. Instead of being used as a phallic symbol, it was translated into a female genital symbol. A popular treatment was to decorate the upper with vagina-like slashes. Sometimes the shoes were lined with protruding silk or with also slashed fur to suggest a pubic effect. With each step and bend of the foot the multiple slits opened and closed to reveal pink flesh or hose beneath. The depiction of this openly erotic suggestion left little to the imagination. Even today, the slashed effects or teardrop cut-outs, often seen in women's modern shoe design, are a carry-over of this concept.

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