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The History of Stiletto Heels

While high heels have a long and storied place in the history of fashion for both genders, the stiletto heel is distinctly a 20th century phenomenon. It gets its name from an Italian knife with a slender blade and a sharp point. The stiletto was engineered sometime between 1948 and 1954 and was only made possible by applying new materials and techniques that were originally invented for aircraft carriers: namely, aluminum and injection molding. These innovations made the stiletto’s characteristic thinness and height possible for the first time. There is no single known inventor of the stiletto, as multiple designers have been credited with the invention, including Salvatore Ferragamo, Roger Vivier, and André Perugia. However, it was definitely Marilyn Monroe who helped popularize them. During the 1950s, she wore them frequently, and stilettos were associated with Hollywood glamour; it wasn’t until the 1960s that it became the high heel of choice for most women. However, in the 1970s, the shoe was derided for being restrictive and uncomfortable. And yet in the 1980s, the stiletto regained its popularity and became a symbol of power and dominance for working women. Since then, it has maintained its place in fashion and culture, ultimately representing female empowerment and the playful side of fashion.

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