|Just after World War II started, Germany implemented
rationing of material and leather goods, because of wartime conditions,
at the end of September 1939. As a result, shoemakers received only
6-8% of their usual prewar quotas for leather. Thus, it became much
costlier and more difficult for German consumers to obtain shoes. Manufacturing
luxury footwear made of patent leather, silk, Atlas-textile or velvet was
forbidden altogether. Ladies resorted to wearing their prewar models
as long as possible, or exchanging shoes (even shoe-stock exchanges developed).
In addition to recommendations to let children run barefoot during summer
-- in order to save wear on shoes -- official guidance on self-work and
repair of shoes became increasingly frequent in needlework instructions
as the war progressed.
order to conserve leather, raised heels and elevated soles made of wood
or cork became a favored replacement. This type of material was readily
available and to make it easier to walk in these shoes, the soles were
rounded in a "rocking-chair" style. In addition, especially since 1941,
the increasing lack of material forced reliance on straw and grass as sanctioned
substitutes, which were also deemed more suitable for self-manufacture.
Other items were also employed. The year before, shoes with Plexiglas soles
were introduced. Plexiglas is a shatterproof poly-plastic substance that
was developed by the German art industry first. Material for the uppers
often consisted of linen, gabardine, felt cloth, cord, rabbit fur and fish
Leather and other raw materials were also
strictly rationed under wartime emergency orders in America and England.
For example, during the course of the war, official measures specified
the maximum height of raised soles and ladies heels, in order to achieve
maximum economic control of scarce goods.
As the war continued, elevated and wedge heels
made of cork and wood appeared in many bizarre forms. It was almost as
if one wanted to create a counterbalance to the triangular fashion silhouette
with extremely broad shoulders and narrow hip. For example, in the
United States, the South American singer and actress Carmen Miranda wore
very high wedges to offset her diminutive stature, and these caused such
a sensation that they were widely imitated.
||Following the end of the war, everything initially
remained as before (even the rationing of leather and certain other materials
was maintained until 1949). However, America suffered much less from material
shortages than had wartime Europe. In particular, California and
its intrinsic film industry quickly conveyed extravagantly colorful postwar
fashion trends in spike and raised heels.
||Especially favored by American youth in
the 1930s and 40s, the two-toned low heel saddle shoes (also popular in
brown and white) were widely seen across US schoolyard and collegiate campuses.
|Slightly elevated opera pumps with butterfly
bow, combined suede or soft body with a band of rough leather were reserved
for fall and winter seasonal wear. This Hungarian model by Unica Iseghem
employs snakeskin, although American shoes would favor alligator.
||Sporty blue fabric pumps with spike heels
feature a nautical flair, complete with cute mini-porthole and button bow
effect. These types of motifs represented trendy stylishness.
|Open-toed ankle-strap high heels by The
American Girl, designed for eveningwear. Shades like apple green were considered
a modern touch. In 1941, the open-toed pump was the most popular type of
shoe for eveningwear in the United States.
||Mesh peep-toed ankle-strap high heels with
bow (Capri Last version by Palter DeLiso) represent an extreme example
of formal summer dresswear. Ideally, the toe should come to the edge of
the shoe in peep-toe footwear.
|Pale blue ankle-strap high heels by L.
Miller of Fifth Avenue, featured an embroidered floral design that was
a stylish with light summer gowns.
||Brown suede high heels by Baker, with snakeskin
vamp and decorative leather tie, were eminently suitable for Fall fashion
|The blocky nature of these black suede
winter shoes, with raised heels and inner lining, was only slightly offset
by ornamental perforations
||Ladies wedge-soled sandals in American
patriotic tricolor fashion were typical of summer footwear designed for
active casual wear, and harmonized with many "loyal fashion" themes of
the World War II period.
|Typical European wartime block-heel shoes
by Graziella of Paris were styled in “rocking-chair” fashion, and made
of smooth black leather with red piping. The wooden soles were affixed
to synthetic rubber (Buna) outsoles.
||Open heel peep-toe sports spectator black-fabric
shoes with jute laces. During the war years, the composition could also
include straw or baste soles.
|Wartime conditions mandated leather-saving
devices, such as these open-cut Cuban heels with cork soles. However, such
open designs had a tendency to make the foot look large.
||Two-toned footwear in contrasting colors
was very fashionable. These Navy-blue suede streetwear pumps by Flex Moda
feature slipper fronts with femininely decorative rims and laces.
|These stylish cotton-fabric American spike
heels were typical of “Calico-patch shoes”, made of leftover scraps in
place of scarce leather and other wartime-rationed cloth material, and
trimmed with bows or other youthfully girlish effects.
||Light-gray suede ankle-strap high heels
are typical of the Continental Look, which favored a closed tip instead
of the open-toed design of so many comparable American and English models.
|Fancy openwork ankle-strap spike heels,
by Chaussures Apollo of Belgium, featured typical wartime material-rationing
measures, such as leather conservation and wood-composition soles and heels.
||Mesh tipped purple spike heels by Jacqueline
(designed by Wohl, USA) were highlighted by extravagant touches like snakeskin
portions and tiny decorative mother-of-pearl buttons.
|Fashionable two-tone horsehair spike heels
by Maria Christina de Luxe of Mexico with leather instep and ankle straps.
The white portions made them suitable as stylish party footwear for summer
||Two-tone cream suede and brown leather
“Spectators” (contrasting caps and counter to the body). Summer footwear
could be either all white, white and brown or white and black with heels
|Ankle-strap spike heels by Joseph Magnin
of California-Nevada featured suede leather with decorative smooth-leather
contrasts, as well as other dainty feminine rivets.
||Black suede ankle-strap spike heels by
C. H. Baker of California. Very high spike heels were typical of the postwar
era, and openly worn on American streets as liberation from wartime restraint.
|Wine red ankle-strap spike heels by Frank
Werner Co. of San Francisco-Oakland featured open tips and embossed leatherwork.
were also called continental heels, which may have come about because spike
heels were banned from wear in churches. However, continental heels (the
same thing) were proper for churchgoers. Such terminology made a difference
in large areas of the American countryside, although it did not extend
to cosmopolitan cities like New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and so forth.
||Dressy costume velvet raised-sole (cork)
heels with instep and ankle straps, featuring transparent Vinylid vamp
and satin decorative flowers.
|Silver ankle-strap kid high heels were
very popular because they went well with most basic colors in evening clothes.