Zapatos de salón, conoce su historia - Portada

Court shoes: the stories behind Cannes and Creta

Court shoes hold a special place within the new Tierras mediterráneas collection, with Cannes and Creta standing out as shining, contemporary renditions of this classic design. But, do you know what court shoes really are and where they come from? We reveal all in this post.

Court shoes and their main characteristics

The court shoe’s elegant and classic design make it the little black dress of the shoe world: an essential for any wardrobe. They key is in the classic lines that run uninterrupted over the upper part of the shoe. They firmly support the foot without the need for laces, zips or buckles.

Zapatos de salón, conoce su historia - Escarpines (Chanel)

The bridge of the foot remains exposed, the toes are covered and the arch is raised by a nimble yet sturdy heel. This makes for simple footwear that foregrounds your feet’s slender shape and beauty. Pumps are an identical model just with a lower heel, or sometimes no heel at all.

The origin and evolution of the court shoe

The first signs of the court shoe can be found in the courts of Eleanor of Aquitaine, queen of France and England during the XII century. Then came the souliers de court (court or lounge shoes) to be worn with floaty dresses, tails and sheer fabrics.


Zapatos de salón, conoce su historia - Reina Leonor

Queen Eleanor & Fair Rosamund by Evelyn De Morgan (Public domain)

This model was pointed and squeezed the wearer’s toes together in such an uncomfortable way that bearing the pain was considered to be a symbol of religious devotion. Although this model disappeared for many years, it’s a shoe we see come back into fashion in different periods of history.

During the XVII century, it made a comeback as a heeled dance shoe for men featuring elegant, decorative ribbons. During the first few decades of the XIX century, these ribbons were done away with and men danced in charcoal pumps. In fact, the style was slowly and cautiously adopted by women.

Zapatos de salón, conoce su historia - Masculinos s. XIX

In 1910, the court shoe was reborn once more: these pumps, now made in a variety of materials, incorporated a 5-cm heel and decorative elements such as pompoms and bows that would change with the seasons.

A definitive figure in the court shoe’s evolution was Coco Chanel. Her love for effortless style, epitomised in the “petite robe noire”, called for shoes with an understated design. And as a result, she based her creations on the work of Vittore Carpaccio and the shoes he gave to Saint Ursula: thus was born the modern court shoe.

Zapatos de salón, conoce su historia - Vida de Santa Úrsula

Scenes from The Legend of Saint Ursula by Carpaccio

Cinema has also played an important role in their rise to fame. Legendary designers such as Salvatore Ferragamo introduced this model directly to Hollywood via his work with production studios. As well as acquainting court shoes with the big screen and the red carpets, he added a slim steel plate to the arch of the shoe to support the wearer’s feet. This helped to spread the wearer’s weight more evenly, which also made the shoe itself more slender.

Zapatos de salón, conoce su historia - Ferragamo

Salvatore Ferragamo presents Kimo (photo by David Lees, 1951)

In the 1940s, David Evins was dubbed the “king of pumps” for giving actresses’ feet a modern elegance. In addition, Roger Vivier created the stiletto heel alongside Christian Dior, which was seen as a great leap in the shoe world.

During the following decades, there was a series of changes to the model as designers began to introduce an open heel and started to play with the aesthetic and heel height. However, this era’s true icon was indeed Jacqueline Kennedy with her shoes designed by René Mancini.

Her simple yet incredibly elegant pumps set a sweeping trend. If you want to find out more about this style icon, take another look at this post dedicated exclusively to Jackie Kennedy.

Zapatos de salón, conoce su historia - Creta (Pie)

The 1970s saw how pumps with a small heel were slowly being transformed, acquiring higher heels and more pointed toes. This was a decade of reinvention, with the introduction of modern textiles such as plastic and the hunt for transparent materials. Some of its greatest proponents were René Caovilla, Armando Pollini, Philippe Model and Emma Pope.

The court shoe’s evolution is still ongoing, never failing to catch the attention of the most prominent designers. Cannes and Creta are O.SUR’s interpretation of this quintessential model: the first, a simpler design in ever-elegant black. The second takes on a vintage air, harking back to models of the 1930s.

Zapatos de salón, conoce su historia - Cannes

If you want to see them in more detail, follow the links to see their individual product pages or have another read of this post about the entire Tierras mediterráneas collection. What are you waiting for? Get your hands on these one-of-a-kind wardrobe essentials!


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