How to say it: vuh–nee-shuh-n chop-in
- a platform sole of varying height – can be so high as to resemble stilts
- sole traditionally made of cork or wood
- upper shoe in slip on style
- usually very decorative
Original Venetian Chopines
21st Century Venetian Chopines
The chopine doesn’t really exist in modern mainstream fashion, at least not in the extremes that it did in the 15th century. However, platform shoes do have a continuous presence in the footwear market, and more extreme versions of the platform regularly make appearances on the feet of women wanting to make an impression in the 21st century.
Alexander McQueen, Omar Perez
Free People, Stella McCartney
…of the style: Venetian chopines were a popular women’s shoe in the 15th – 17th centuries. The style was thought to have been originally worn as a type of clog, used to protect the wearer’s shoes and dress from the dirty and uneven surfaces of the streets of Italy and Spain, but later turned into a fashion shoe with the height of the chopines indicating the social standing and wealth of the wearer.
The chopine was normally made from wood or cork, covered in fabric or leather, and heavily decorated. Some sources say that walking in chopines caused an inelegant gait and wearers were often accompanied by a servant on which to balance, while others state that women who were practiced in the wearing of chopines were graceful and could even wear them dancing.
Chopines were also popular in Spain in the 15th century, however the style of the shoe differed, adopting a symmetric, conical shape that was often bejewelled, embossed or embroidered, whereas the Venetian styles were usually more artistically carved. It is believed that Spanish women wore their skirts above their chopines, so that the shoes were always on show – hence the elaborate and often expensive materials used to adorn the shoe. However in Italy, chopines were hidden under the clothes, used as a means to increase the height of the wearer and therefore the length of her skirts, allowing her to display a greater material wealth.
The chopine fell out of style in the 17th century as the focus of fashion moved from Venice to the French Court and the platform was replaced by heeled shoes reminiscent of Persian riding boots. Platform shoes remained out of fashion until 20th century when designer Ferragamo brought them back in the 1930s. Since then, platform shoes have ridden the waves of fashion trends, and while extreme platforms do exist, they rarely make it into mainstream fashion, and certainly never reach the 20 inch heights of their ancestors the chopines
…of the name: The term ‘chopine’ apparently comes from the Spanish work chapin which apparently means clog.
- during the height of their popularity, Venetian chopines apparently reached 20 inches tall
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