Ornate, flamboyant footwear has been flaunted in royal courts, the runway, the stage, even in coffins, throughout eras noted for fashion innovation. Yet for all the outward extravagance, there are secrets to their construction. The Theatrical and Character Footwear class for fifth semester Accessories Design students “introduces students to another aspect of the footwear industry,” says Professor Vasilios Christofilakos who teaches the Monday morning class.
“The young Egyptian King Tut–What might he have worn in his short life as king, and what would he have been buried in?” There was use of exotic animals and jewels; they designed gilded Egyptian toe covers.
“The brother of Louis the XIV, the Duke of Orleans–What might he would have worn to show off the ‘transgenderism’ of the time? He was also a phenomenal warrior.”
Of course Marie Antoinette is part of the curriculum–not only what she wore to court, but perhaps to the guillotine.
There’s a Spanish period famous for black and gold, harkening back to Byzantium. Prof. Christofilakos makes reference to the Byzantine slippers of the emperors and their wives, like Theodora, the clergy and high priests.
Along with lectures and demos, students create concept and inspiration boards and five footwear designs throughout the semester.
“The shoes have to be telegenic,” says Prof. Christofilakos. “They should look good on stage, for the camera, and be successfully translated for the big screen, television, and electronic devices.”