The numbers-based review of the Sixties is taking forever, mostly because I’m juggling other projects. So I figured that I’d highlight some coming attractions, to motivate myself to get a move on as much as anything.
First up, I’ve added another social networked facet to this project, in the form of a set of Pinterest boards. The reason for this is that, at getting on for 11,000 images, the MFW Tumblr Blog was becoming a little unwieldy. I’ll keep using Tumblr as the main repository for project images, but Pinterest allows me to provide a more “curated” set of content, and to offer some things that go beyond the tight 1960s-1980s time-frame.
Next, I’ve been slowly/painfully accumulating a collection of mail order catalogs from the 1970s. These are the big, general catalogs, including Sears and Montgomery Ward from the U.S. and Kays, Freemans, and Janet Frazer from the UK. The reason for this is that I wanted to accumulate some data on what women were actually wearing, as opposed to the picture that you get from magazines like Vogue or L’Officiel. So you can expect this stuff to come through by the end of the year.
If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you may recall that I’ve been building a reference collection of boots to fill some of the gaps in the on-line museum catalogs that served as a data source for the original “Tree of Boots” exercise. I did a couple of posts on this back in April and promised some more updates, which have not been forthcoming. Expect me to rectify this in the next few months.
And finally, I had a plan in my head to do some posts on great boot designers; I did one on David Evins and sketched out a couple of potential pieces on Roger Vivier and Christian Louboutin before I got distracted. Hopefully I’ll be able to get these done as well. Stay tuned.
How easy it is to get distracted. I was nicely set on chewing through data from publications to look at fluctuations in the popularity of boots as a fashion item for women between 1960 and the present day. Then, while I was doing some background research for the previous post, I found a reference in a 1961 New York Times article to a boot by Capezio from 1957, described as a “narrow, near knee, flat-footed ballet boot.”
The Times article was saying that this Capezio boot had become one of the popular styles in the 1961 collections, and any reference to a knee-length fashion boot from the 1950s (a time when boots, although present, were invariably ankle length) was worth chasing up. But the more I looked, the more puzzling things became.
For starters, the reference to “ballet boots” (a term that today is usually applied to a form of fetishwear that holds the foot permanently en pointe) is not coincidental. Capezio, as a company, was and is best known as a manufacturer of dance shoes. There is a Canadian shoe store called Capezio, but it only dates back to the late 1970s. Google Capezio and 1960s and you get references to Capezio shoes as a fashion item, but not their relationship to either the dance wear company or the mysterious boots.
Then, lo and behold, I found a pair in the collections of the Met, dating back to 1961. And yes, it looks like these are the ones referenced in the Times article, and it looks like the company is the same as the ballet shoe manufacturer. So at one level, my question is answered.
Except what about those ones from 1957? Were they originally intended for dance wear and subsequently co-opted for fashion, like the famous alligator-skin thigh boots Roger Vivier designed for Saint Laurent’s couture collection in 1963? Or were they an early, Beth Levine-type foray into more aggressively promoting boots as a fashion item?
So now I have to go do more research. Sigh.
- Metropolitan Museum of Art: Boots, leather, 1961. Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of the Brooklyn Museum, 2009; Gift of Bonnie Cashin, 1963. Accession Number: 2009.300.7266a, b
- High-Style Boots Rise to the Knee: Fall Versions Will Be an Important Part of Many Costumes. New York Times, May 1961.