An example of an early 17th century Chopine

Advantage in Vintage: Platform shoes aren’t a fashion trend restricted to the 20th century, with examples existing of chopines -the forerunner of the platform – dating right back to the Renaissance period, originally used as an overshoe or patten. Due to the fact that the “platform” was often made of wood or cork original examples do still survive.

It was the Thirties though when platform shoes as we know them today came into fashion.

Vogue October 1938 stated “ It’s no sin to call a shoe clumsy, these days it’s a compliment. If you haven’t already worn a platform or wedge sole, do have a pair of two for autumn with this new thick look”.

One of Ferragamo’s most innovative platform designs. Designed in 1938 for Judy Garland.

Carmen Miranda was a big influence on the popularity of the platform, she wore the shoes due to the fact she was a very diminutive 5ft. Apparently she commissioned a pair from Ferragamo in 1936 and this was when the craze for platform really set in.

Ferragamo was an innovator with the variety of materials he used and his often art inspired designs.

Platforms remained popular throughout the Thirties and Forties worn for day and evening wear. Especially during the war the style was popular due to the materials that could be used to make platforms, materials that were cheap and in supply like wood and cork. Ferragamo was using cork from wine bottles for his shoes.

This pair (below) are characteristic of CC41 platforms with their closed toe and medium height heel.

A pair of platform shoes with the CC41 label (personal  collection)

And these shoes dating to 1949 were owned by the same lady as the brocade pair.

These shoes come from my own collection and were worn for a wedding in 1948. Designed by iconic brand Lotus.


Original 1970s Biba platform shoes (personal collection)

Platform shoes continued to be popular until the late Forties, even Queen Elizabeth sported a pair of shoes with a slight platform for her weddingin 1947.

Platforms fell out of favour in the Fifties with a return to more elegantly shaped shoes, although the reign of the platform was not over. The Thirties revival in the Seventies saw platforms come back to the forefront of fashion designed by the likes of Terry de Havilland and Chelsea Cobbler, now much more extravagant than those seen in the Thirties and Forties.

These were not only a perfect accompaniment to the new “retro” styles but also to the disco craze sweeping across the world. In the Seventies, platforms were popular for both men and women.

Although, perhaps the most famous pair of platform shoes from the 20th century were those designed by Vivienne Westwood and worn by Naomi Campbell. Definitely eye catching and certainly showing similarities to the 17th century chopines with their vertiginous heels!

Vivienne Westwood’s Ghillie platforms worn by Naomi Campbell in 1993











Advantage In Vintage is Liz Tregenza, a vintage collector and fashion historian.
Not only does Liz love vintage but also the social history connected to the clothes.
Liz primarily collects garments from the Forties and Fifties and has a passion for novelty print textiles.