Killer Heels

The Alfred Gillett Trust not only takes care of Clarks shoes, but also shoes belonging to many other companies.

World War II had a huge impact on footwear fashion through the 1940s, and continued to influence trends during the 1950s.

High heels were banned in 1942 as part of the war effort, when there was a restriction on materials due to rationing, including supplies of leather.  One consequence of rationing within Britain was the height of heels.  The maximum heel height allowed was 5 centimetres.  As a result a minimal heel, if any, was usually worn, with high heels only making their appearance during formal occasions.

Rationing continued after the war, and only ended completely in 1952.  Between the end of World War II and 1952, however, restrictions on styles were lifted.  Soon after the ending of the war medium-sized heels were still worn, but there was a re-introduction of pre-war styles, including peep toes and high heels for everyday wear.

This dramatic example of a high-heeled court shoe demonstrates the extremes that were achieved, and the creativity that was unleashed after the restrictive prohibition on high heels.

Single women's black leather court shoe; London House, c.1947

It was made in around 1947 and was created by London House.  The heel measures 13 centimetres in height.  However the height of the heel is only possible because of the depth of the platform, which is 3.5 cm deep.  The height of the platform is important, as there comes a point at which the arch of the foot prevents the heel from going any higher, making it impossible to wear.  The platform allows the height of the heel to be achieved.

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