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Women from the Ankle Down: The Story of Shoes and How They Define Us Hardcover – May 29, 2012
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“A fleet-footed social history.” (L
“A lively look at the history of stilettos, sneakers and sundry other leather- and rubber-soled objects of swoon.” (Olivia Barker, USA Today)
“If style defines the woman, and shoes a woman’s style, then ooh la la, here’s the definitive history and guide—everything from Chinese bound feet to Ferragamo, from Hollywood favorites to running up one’s credit card on the sine qua non of fashion.” (M
“If you could glimpse the passing parade of the last hundred years or so from behind a slightly raised curtain, you’d have a pretty good idea of what’s going on in this richly anecdotal history of shoes.” (A
“Every woman who loves her shoes should read this book—hell—every man who loves women’s shoes should read this book….Informative, interesting, and just plain fun.” (New York Journal of Books)
“[Bergstein’s] entertaining book wears its research as lightly as a pair of strappy sandals.” (T
“At last someone has dared to probe one of the most mystifying phenomena in our culture: what’s the deal with women and shoes? Rachelle Bergstein starts from the ground up and tells us—with wit and brio—a lot about society from an unusual and original perspective.” (R
“As a woman who walks, I’ve often wondered why I don’t wear more sensible shoes. Now I know. Rachelle Bergstein has written a compulsively readable history: it won’t keep you from buying an absurdly uncomfortable and expensive pair, but it will make you understand why you’re doing it.” (R
“[An] engaging, toe-to-heel study....From flats a la Audrey Hepburn, Keds and white go-go- boots, Tommy-era platforms, and Jane Fonda’s Reebok Freestyles, to Sex and the City’s pricey Manolo Blahniks and Jimmy Choo’s, Bergstein ably runs the gamut of styles over the decades…” (Publishers Weekly)
From the Back Cover
What is it about a pair of shoes that so enchants women of all ages, demographics, political affiliations, and style tribes? Part social history, part fashion record, part pop-culture celebration, Women from the Ankle Down seeks to answer that question as it unfolds the story of shoes in the twentieth century.
The tale begins in the rural village of Bonito, Italy, with a visionary young shoemaker named Salvatore Ferragamo and ends in New York City with a fictional socialite and trendsetter named Carrie Bradshaw. Along the way it stops in Hollywood, where Judy Garland first slipped on her ruby slippers; New Jersey, where Nancy Sinatra heard something special in a song about boots; and the streets of Manhattan, where a transit-worker strike propelled women to step into cutting-edge athletic shoes. Fashion aficionado Rachelle Bergstein shares the stories behind these historical moments, interweaving the design innovations and social changes that gave each one its lasting significance and appeal.
Bergstein shows how the story of shoes is the story of women, told from the ankle down. Beginning with the well-heeled suffragettes in the 1910s, women have fought for greater freedom and mobility, a struggle that exploded in the 1960s with the women's liberation movement and culminated in the new millennium with our devotion to personal choice. Featuring interviews with designers, historians, and cultural experts, and a cast of real-life characters, from Marilyn Monroe to Jane Fonda, from Gwen Stefani to Manolo Blahnik, Women from the Ankle Down is a lively, compelling look at the evolution of modern women and the fashion that reflects—and has shaped—their changing lives.
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Perhaps it's not possible to write about every shoe style, but I was struck at someone discussing the 1980s and skipping the Bass obsession.
I bought one copy for her and another for me, and I am not at all sorry that I chose this gift for her. I really hope that she will read it because it's not just a lot of dry information, it is written in a very engaging and enjoyable way and really does touch on many areas of life and history besides just shoes. I will thoroughly enjoy finishing my copy and keeping on my bookshelf for future reference.
It is one of the kind of books where every word on the page is there for a reason, because every page transmits information. I'm not looking at this book from a fashion professional's point of view but I would say there is little to no fluff and filler in the text, the consonants and vowels are there because they have a mission to fulfill.
It's worth it. It's fun. And I think it is safe to declare that you will learn something somewhere in it.