Thursday, November 28, 2013
The d’Orsay pump: Possibly the sexiest shoe design of all
The D’Orsay is a style of pump and a shoe with a circular vamp and quarters that curve downward into deep V-cuts at the sides for foot exposure. The toes and heels are covered with both the inner and outer arch exposed.
The shoe was invented circa 1840 by dandy and libertine, Alfred Gabriel comte d'Orsay (Count of Orsay), (1801 – 1852), son of Count General Albert Guillaume d’Orsay (1772 – 1843 ) . Like his father he was a bella figure, and became a recognized leader in the English fashionable world. From Alfred’s first appearance in London in 1821 until his death in Paris in 1852, he dominated and scandalized the whole of European society. For three decades he was the ultimate arbiter in matters of taste and style and what D'Orsay wore today, society would wear tomorrow. He considered himself heir apparent to the now exiled Beau Brummell as arbiter elegantiarum in London’s society and was probably the most celebrated Dandy of his day. Men admired him not only for his physique but also for his sporting and athletic prowess; women crowded around him not only because of his unfailing politesse and charm but also because he was a dab hand at sketching and frequently treated them to an impromptu portrait while gossiping wittily over the teacups. His easy manner enabled him to mix with all classes and his linguistic skills meant that he could speak with people from most of Europe. He liked the company of soldiers and working men quite as much as that of gentlemen, and he even appeared to take females seriously, an honour bestowed rarely enough even on well-born and educated women in the early years of Queen Victoria's reign. During the 19th century the pump or slip on shoe was elevated from the shoddy footwear of the street urchin to elegance extraordinaire after the invention of elastic goring (a triangular shaped piece of elasticated fabric) in 1836. Neatly fitting pumps made of exotic leather and fabrics graced the feet of the fashionista of both gender. Count D’Orsay took to wearing the low cut pump with exposed arch to accentuate the sinous movement of his feet. Woman soon adopted and wore them with heels which were further sensualised with the addition of toe cleavage. The D’Orsay pump, long been considered the sexiest of shoe designs was only recently rediscovered with the launch of Jenni Kayne’s version in 2003. Today Kayne’s kitten heeled flat d’Orsay, remains the signature shoe for her eponymous label.