History of Chopines

Appearance of high-end and quality made footwear in 12th and 13th century enabled the creation of patten shoes, which were used extensively by royalty and nobility as a means of protecting their shoes and elaborately made clothes from the mud and street soil. As their need to appear in those clothes increased with the arrival of larger and larger amounts of nobility that was born with the rise of trade between European countries and their neighbors from Asia and Africa, patten shoes became a sort of fashion statement, especially as technology and overall quality of life enabled some wealthier parts of Europe to better control the state of their public places, road and eliminate presence of mud and street soils in some cities. Even though there was no explicit need to wear patten shoes in those areas, nobles all around Europe started viewing patten shoes as the mark of nobility and status, and eventually started creating patten shoes that were not protective but made specifically to be used by men and women. These shoes were called Chopine.

Chopine Shoes

Chopines were most popular in Italy, France, England and Spain, where females of preferred to wear them to showcase their social status – the higher the shoes, the more cultural and social standing they brought to the wearer. In a symbolic way, the highest woman in public occasion commanded most social power among her peers. This fashion made some really exotic looking shoes, with some chopines being over 20 inches high during the height of the European Renaissance. Wearers of such extravagant shoes often had many problems navigating the world with them, and they often required help of one or two servants to mount or dismount from them, and even balance themselves while they walked. Several popular dances in Renaissance took account for chopines and their moves were adjusted for such footwear.

Many European countries accepted chopines as the integral part of their lifestyle, most notably Spain who from 15th century used chopines made from corks in staggering numbers. Historically, chopines were made from cork, wood, metal, and higher end models were covered with leather, jewel-embroidered velvet and brocades.