Fashion, Style

The Fashion Alphabet


To all of you who take the time to actually read what I have to say on this blog, I extended my deepest apologies for being so absent lately. It really is true that this becomes a full time task and with work hours and and and.. It just seems like I never have enough time on my hands. So I truly am sorry…

Today I will be discussing the one style of shoe that will always make me feel better. Yes, I know great shoes come in all different shapes and sizes and styles to suit our needs but since I was not blessed in the height department, I need to pay a small tribute to  the style of shoe that gave me a boost in life years ago and has continued to do so ever since…

We take a quick look into the hisory of…



A stiletto heel – named after the after the stiletto dagger, which is a long thin blade, similar in shape to the heel of the shoe – the use of the phrase was first recorded in the early 1930s. It is noted that It’s usage in footwear first appeared in print in the New Statesman magazine in 1959, which stated: “She came …forward, her walk made lopsided by the absence of one heel of the stilettos”.

To date back, relatively thin high heels were indeed present in the late 19th century, as is seen in numerous fetish drawings. Photographic evidence exists in the form of photographs taken of a Parisian singer from the 1940s, Mistinguett .

The shoes that were photographed were designed by Andre Perugia, who was a French shoe designer who was born in Nice, France in 1893 of Italian parentage. Perugia trained in his father’s workshop and at the age of 16, in 1909, he opened a shop in Paris where he sold his handmade shoes. It is rather unlikely that he was the sole inventor of the stiletto, but he is possibly the first firmly documented designer of the high, slim heel.

Perugia hard at work
Perugia hard at work

The stiletto heel came with the dawn of technology using a supporting metal shaft or stem embedded into the heel. It was used instead of wood or other, weaker materials that required a wide heel. Interestingly enough, the now conventional method of mass-producing high shoe heels that we recognise today, i.e. moulded plastic with an internal metal tube for reinforcement, does not achieve the true stiletto shape.

The extremely slender original Italian-style stiletto heels of the late 1950s along with the very early 1960s were no more than 5 mm in diameter for much of their length, though the heel sometimes flared out a little at the top for support. With the change in fashion trends in the mid-late 1960s, slender heels were difficult to come across.

A version of the stiletto heel was reintroduced in 1974 by the now world renowned heel designer – Manolo Blahnik, who dubbed his “new” heel the “Needle”. Similar pairs as well as replicas (they lacked the true stiletto heel because of changes in the way heels were by then being mass-produced)  of the original design were sold in street fashion markets and became popular with punks and with other fashion “tribes” of the late 1970s. This was until the supplies of the inspirational original styles were diminished in the early 1980s – this lead to the development of round-toe shoes with slightly thicker (sometimes cone-shaped) semi-stiletto heels. This new style survived through much of the 1980s but almost completely disappeared during the 1990s, when professional and college-age women took to wearing shoes with thick, block heels.

The slender stiletto heel staged a major comeback after 2000 when the “casual chic sense of style” became prominent in young women who not only adopted the style for dressing up office wear but also for styling these heels with their jeans.

As they always have been, Stiletto heels are particularly associated with the image of the femme fatale. They are often considered to be seductive and have become known more for their erotic nature than for their ability to make height. Stiletto heels are a common fetish item.


In the modern world we live in today, Stiletto heels are seen in many different colours, materials and styles – the only constant is the most important element, the heel. There are a number of shoe designers who produce stiletto heels that pay homage to the original shoe.

These designers include the likes of:

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Today even celebrities want to get into the game of producing their own heels, just like one of the greatest fashion icons, Sarah Jessica Parker.


There are even South African designers who create incredible pairs of stiletto heels, such as the talented Errol Arendz with Dusud.

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My own pair of Errol Arendz stilettos
My own pair of Errol Arendz stilettos

Whether you are a woman who lives in heels or prefers to have their feet flat on the ground, there is no denying that is something so desirable about a sassy pair of stilettos!

Share your thoughts and comments below!

Thanks VB xx

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