Footwear fiends, meet your new encyclopedia: The Shoe Book, by Nancy MacDonell ($50; assouline.com), chronicles the accessory's rich history, tracing its origins from ancient Armenian sandals to Dorothy's ruby slippers and beyond—plus, it includes interviews with Christian Louboutin, Sarah Jessica Parker, and more. Featuring 360 pages and 300 gorgeous visuals, this book will fulfill all your shoe fantasies.
"We’re having a major shoe moment," MacDonell writes. "What we choose to put on our feet has enormous significance." We couldn't agree more! Captivating women around the world for centuries as a form of expression that communicates to the world who they are or who they want to be, shoes have become integrated into our lives. The Shoe Book takes a look at footwear past and present and reviews a wide range of iconic styles and their designers—from sneakers to stilettos and Birkenstocks to booties—and we simply can't get enough.
This feature originally appeared InStyle's May issue, available on newsstands and for digital download now.
1. Sneakers Go High Fashion
The sneaker may be in the midst of a fashion comeback, but the comfy kicks have also inspired other designs. "They’ve become some of the most fetishized shoes around," MacDonell states.
2. The Growing Shoe Fixation
Many department stores have enlarged and refurbished their shoe departments so that they now take up entire floors. "At its Manhattan flagship location, Saks Fifth Avenue created a shoe department so large that the post office gave it its own zip code: 10022-SHOE," writes MacDonell.
3. Increasingly Elaborate Embellishments
In the nineteenth century, boots were the footwear of choice, often "with beading, embroidery, and uppers that combined fabric and leather," says MacDonell.
4. Marilyn's Slick Trick
The bombshell's boost? Stilettos. She was rumored to wear heels with one made slightly shorter than the other, "thus ensuring she was permanently and fetchingly off-kilter," says MacDonell.
5. Two Times the Fun
It's the norm now to be a shoe fanatic, explains MacDonell. "The average American woman owns about 20 pairs, nearly double the number that was in her closet in the late 1990s," the author writes.
6. Time For Liftoff
Roger Vivier, who worked for Christian Dior at the time, is credited with inventing the stiletto in 1954, a 3-inch steel-reinforced heel that "perched on a base smaller than a dime," says MacDonell.
7. One Pair is Never Enough
Designers have long tinkered with the shape of high heels, and "have consistently shown great imagination in devising new ways to lure women to the shoe department," the author writes.
8. The Shoe Book