Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Boot plagarism!

Double vision! These are two different shoes, but boy do they look alike!

The one on the left is from ModCloth.com, an example of their "Toe the Shine" boot, which retails for $114.99. From the description:

When it comes to clothes, the distinction between cute and comfortable can be a big one - but this fab flat boot definitely walks that line with confidence. This vegan-friendly shoe has a soft, faux-suede upper in a deep charcoal that feels like heaven from the moment you pull it on. Its the shiny black-capped toe, bow, and back heel, though, that really make you pine for this lovely boot. Imagine the delight that will ensue when you pair this cozy cutie with a prim wool mini dress, black leggings, and a tweed coat for a warm but stylish ensemble in which to face the frigid fall temps!

Gee, but this looks just like some shoe I've seen before...where did I see that shoe?! I remember distinctly being struck by the idea of a boot that wears like a shoe plus stocking, without the inconvenient froideur of wearing flats with tights. I wracked my brain for a good twenty minutes before the correct context shuffled its way the top of my mental Rolodex.

The shoe on the right is featured in the Victoria and Albert Museum collection, which has an amazing online search feature-- tons of fashion items dating back to practically caveman times, and all photographed and digitally added for my perusing pleasure. I found this item, a man's "Opera Boot" from the 1840's, when I was drooling over their (at the time traveling) Golden Age of Couture collection. Per the website:

Opera boots were also known as 'Dress Wellingtons' and were often worn when going out to dinner, the theatre, opera and other social evening occasions. Although they were shaped like a boot, they would have resembled a dress shoe when worn under trousers. Many opera boots had bows attached, and the uppers were often made of different textures of leather to give the appearance of a dress shoe worn over a stocking. Some even had silk stocking legs laid over the leather to give even more of a stocking-like effect.

An anonymous cavalry officer described how this style of boot could be used as a substitute for shoes in his book The Whole Art of Dress (1830):
'This boot is invented, doubtless, for the mere purpose of saving trouble in dress; for without attending to silk stockings or the trouble of tying bows, you have merely to slip on the boots, and you are neatly equipped in a moment.'

My sentiments exactly! Luscious kudos to the man/woman who first dreamed up what is the very soul of convenience!

Wouldn't you include the provenance of this cunning little number in your description if you were the cobbler who drew (kind of blatant) "inspiration" from it? I mean, I guess not, if you were trying to protect your perceived quality of "unique vision", but when most everything on the site's kind of an homage to some vintage that came before it, I certainly can't see any harm in mentioning it.

All that said, how neat is it that I can buy a brand new reproduction1840's novelty boot without having to call up the local costume shop? Now, if only I could raise one hundred and twenty dollars worth of foldin' money...

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