In the 1930s, companies like Delman and Ferragamo popularized chunky sandals and shoes. The trend continued during and immediately after World War II in shoes produced in materials that were not restricted by rationing, such as cork, woven straw, and wood. British brand Biba proposed platform sandals for women that emphasized the individualistic, expressive flare characteristic of that decade’s fashion accessories — an attitude that men confidently adopted as well. Inventive and sometimes flamboyant, platform shoes were favored by musicians in the late twentieth century. In the 1970s especially, lavish platform boots in bright, metallic, or shiny materials intensified the glamorous look of male pop and rock stars including David Bowie and Elton John. These metallic silver and red leather boots bearing John’s initials were co-designed by Elton himself and Lionel Avery in 1974.
Club Kids wore multicolored platform shoes to raves in the 1990s, and pop sensations the Spice Girls made them fashionable, especially for young women. In the twenty-first century, platform shoes have reached new heights in the work of designers such as Alexander McQueen and Noritaka Tatehana.
Photographed as Part of the Exhibit, Items: Is Fashion Modern, on View Through January 28th, 2018 at The Museum of Modern Art in NYC.