I think that when it comes to conversations involving the subject of ‘shoes’ that it normally is a conversation participated in exclusively by women, for women and about women. We men just come up considerably short on matters of interest when it comes to shoes. From famous movie lines like the one in “The American President” where the President’s daughter advices her widowed dad to compliment his dates shoes to the infamous deceased President of the Philippines, Imelda Marcos, who was rumored to own more than 7500 pairs of shoes, although the exact tally was determined to only be about 1060 pairs. Women and their relationship with shoes is well documented.
I doubt my post here will do anything to shift that center but I must declare that I have a particular type of shoe that I love and have since the early 1960’s. Since that time I have never been without a pair or at least some fact simile. The shoe I refer to was initially known as the Chelsea. The shoe was designed and created by an English shoemaker, J. Sparks Hall, around 1851 who was Queen Victoria’s personal shoemaker. The shoe gained almost immediate popularity given the fact that Queen Victoria herself is said to have worn them almost on a daily basis.
Then in the early 1960’s Paul McCartney and John Lennon, two very familiar names I’m sure, saw a pair of the shoes in a local shop window and they adopted the style for the group. They also commissioned a London based shoe company, Anello & Davide, to modify the standard heel and replace it with a Cuban heel which is a high heel normally anywhere from 1½ – 3 inches high. And so it was that what we now know as the “Beatle Boot” was born. Almost immediately after their arrival on the music scene they had put long hair back in fashion along with high heels for men…
Other groups and musicians almost immediately started mimicking Beatle fashion by also adopting the beatle shoe as fashion wear. Here along with the Beatles are a few other well known faces I’m sure you’ll be familiar with also…
My initial introduction to the high-heeled boots came in late 1965 when I was invited to join my first ever rock and roll band, a small four-piece combo consisting of two guitar players, a drummer and myself, the keyboard player playing a small portable organ at the time. Although a little hard to make out, the accompanying band photo of me at my portable organ shows my first pair of “beatle boots”.
Would I have ever donned a pair of high-heel boots had I not had the musician persona to ride? No, I doubt very seriously if I would have. When you become a musician there seems to come with that a sense of freedom when it comes to fashion and social conformity.
But wait… let me not give all the credit for the notoriety surrounding my fabulous high heel boots solely to musicians. There was one other ‘celeb’ and dancer that took them yet a step or two higher in what is probably the most famous sequence of a film’s opening credits in the history of cinema. Actually the song accompanying the opening credits should be the boots own personal theme song. That’s all the hints I am giving….
How do you get in the mood to pull off an opening scene like that? Just put on a pair of those boots and you will find out. They are as transforming as Dorothy’s sparkling ruby slippers! As you can note right at the beginning of the video clip, Mr. Travolta stops briefly at the shoe store window to ensure his shoes are up to standards. Say what you may but this film intro is all about those shoes and how they embolden the male ego!
And let’s not forget a most famous artist of our time who was primarily well known for his iconic art. And along with his Campbell soup cans, Marilyn Monroe and Brillo Pad art you just knew he would have to slip in a rendering of the Beatle Boot. The Andy Warhol print shown below was sold at a Christie’s auction for $722,500 in 2011.
I don’t know about everyone with regard to their relationships with those special pairs of shoes, but I can tell you the truth about these shoes, they were transforming. No matter how bad I felt or how down in the dumps I was, when I put those shoes on and my feet hit the pavement… I was literally transformed into a well-dressed and self-confident guy who felt they could own the world. That was one helluva pair of shoes! Dorothy’s sparkling little red slippers had nothing on my beatle boots!
Technically speaking I don’t suppose my current boots would qualify as being “beatle boots” but my love for the boot style surely comes from a passion passed on by the “beatle boot”. For me they are still “beatle boots” in every sense of the word because I know that is where my love for the boots I now own evolved. I still have 3-pairs of ankle-high boots styled after the Beatle Boot sitting on my closet floor. It’s been years since I have worn any of them and I’m guessing I never will again. At my age I would probably fall flat on my face. These days they may be referred to as gancho boots but no matter the name, no matter the color, they will always be “beatle boots” and will remain so until I die!
Thank you Paul and John for the shoes. They changed who I was and they made life a little more enjoyable…