Lady Gaga's vertiginous footwear might seem just another eccentric component of the star's signature style. But we spoke to Elizabeth Semmelhack, senior curator at Toronto's Bata Shoe Museum, for some historical perspective on towering heels.
"Renaissance chopines were insanely high stilted shoes and the highest example is over 22 inches in height," says Semmelhack, who studied Renaissance footwear for an exhibit called "On a Pedestal." "What's interesting about looking at the pieces in that exhibition is that we think there are crazy shoes today, but for hundreds of years there were very excessive forms of footwear that were worn. The chopines are a very good example of just how excessive shoes can be. The point of these shoes is that they were worn under skirts, so they weren't flashed like you'd flash your pair of Louboutins. They were more a form of undergarment that caused dresses to be longer, thereby consuming more textiles. And so it was a way of creating conspicuous consumption of textiles. But the shoes themselves were fantastic, amazing unbelievable and are being increasingly quoted."
She continues, "I think that Lady Gaga -- when you see her with two people helping her walk --that's basically a direct quote from Renaissance footwear, when as part of the statement of conspicuous consumption women had these incredibly high platforms on under their skirts but they couldn't walk without the aid of two servants. So I look at Lady Gaga's shoes and I think "Oh, I've seen that!"
We've rounded up some of Gaga's most striking shoe statements, below (and click here for more on the songstress's shoes).
Meanwhile, in more shoe news, Yves Saint Laurent defends its red soles against Christian Louboutin's charges.