Shoes That Changed the World

“Give a girl the right shoes, and she can conquer the world.” – Marilyn Monroe

 Text: Mary Giatra


Practical items of everyday life or the ultimate fashion fetish, shoes are probably women’s biggest love when it comes to fashion. But which are the shoes that have made a substantial impact in the world of design today? Here is a top 10 selection of iconic shoes that have made their own pages in fashion history.


A dressy item of footwear, usually made of two-toned leather, that is known since the mid nineteenth century. The spectator shoe, ensured its popularity when the stylish Duke of Windsor sported a pair while playing golf. It has ever since been one of the most elegant shoe designs, also linked with the Jazz Age and personalities such as Fred Astaire.

The Duke of Windsor

Fred Astaire



One of the most favorite items of footwear among all ages and all sexes. The All-Star shoe was created by the Converse Rubber Corporation and originated in Massachusetts in 1917. A few years later it became the ultimate basketball shoe and has long since stood as one of the most iconic and versatile examples of footwear. Whether the inspiration is rock or grunge, these shoes are considered to be classic.

 The Ramones

Kurt Cobain



The Wizard of Oz was released in 1939 and quickly became one of the most iconic movies of Hollywood. Even though in the original book Dorothy’s slippers are silver, the creative costume designer Adrian, designed that there is no better color than red, to represent dream and power. Dorothy’s sparkly shoes are the absolute synonym of magic.



A classic British street style that has become an iconic brand of London’s youth subcultures since the late 1960s. From skinheads to punks, the “DMs” sent out a message of aggression and revolution. It is since then a trademark that has been loved by young spirits from around the world.

  Punks in Doc Martens

The Clash



The word “stiletto”, comes from Latin and means “pin”. The piercingly pointed shoe heel that emerged after World War II, is the must-have piece of every sexy, nearly fatal woman. As a heel, it has been reformulated in the late 1950s, by the French shoe designer Roger Vivier. One of the most empowering shoes that as it is said, it was created for walking, and walking right over men.

Roger Vivier stilettos

X-Ray with Chain, 1994, Helmut Newton



It was 1947, when in a tiny Parisian workshop, Rose Repetto crafted a pair of dance shoes for her son. However, the big leap to fashion came in 1956, when no other than Brigitte Bardot asked Mme Repetto, to create a pair of ballet slippers for her to wear in her iconic film “And God created woman”. The red ballerinas that she wears in the movie, were light, comfortable and sexy. The success of the shoe was great and is until today one of women’s favorites.

Brigitte Bardot



The modern winklepicker first emerged in the 1920s but it was not until the 1950s that it became really popular among the Teddy Boy “trend”. As street styles went on, the winklepickers were adopted by the fashionable Mods as it was the perfect shoe to ride on a Vespa. The Beatles, have also made them very popular among their fans that copied their style religiously.

  The Beatles

The Rolling Stones



These shoes, are a creation of Manolo Blahnik, a legendary shoe designer that it is said to be one of the leading roles of “Sex and City”. As a designer, he has always been involved at every stage of his shoes’ creation. A “Manolo”, is synonymous to any desirable, eye-catching, expensive and stylish shoe and these Mary Janes in particular, even though as a design they are more than 10 years old, are still being manufactured to satisfy the constant demand.



Christian Louboutin, is the other mythic shoe designer, whose fascination with showgirls and his costumes, has offered him a great deal of inspiration. For him, the high heel, is the ultimate ornament to a woman’s look that emphasizes the slenderness and height of the leg. These designs, express a type of sadomasochism that already exists in fashion. As a designer he is sexy, lyrical and creative and loved by many celebrities globally.



Poise and vulnerability are combined in this type of shoe that was first created by Antonio Berardi (c.2000). Experimental, theatrical and flamboyant, offer a new twist to women’s fashions. As a shoe, it is rather painful and uncomfortable and it is all in all a paradigm of the true irony that exists in fashion. To what lengths will women go in order to look supremely chic?

Victoria Beckham

Victoria Beckham (detail)