In the Twenties and Thirties some academic women condemned high heels, but it was during the Second World War that they were in real danger due to the rationing of leather. The Italian shoe designer Salvatore Ferragamo found the solution by developing the wedge-shaped cork platform. This became fashionable after the war, when more elegant designs were demanded.

Salvatore Ferragamo had exported handmade women's footwear to the USA in 1914, where he finally became known as the movie stars' shoemaker. The Englishman, David Evins, would later in the Forties continue the work of Ferragamo in North America, creating fashion collections for the most famous New York designers (Bill Blass, Oscar de la Renta).

Ferragamo, Andre Perugia and Charles Jourdan competed to develop the finest and most elegant heel, but, in production, they could not use brittle wood or soft materials that could not support the weight of a woman. Several designers devised a steel pin covered with plastic, to overcome the problems in the strength of the heels. The Italians Del Co and Albanese designed an evening sandal with two tiny ribbons and a low heel under the arch of the foot. Roger Vivier, who worked for Christian Dior in Paris, improved the heel, giving it the form of a comma and took the credit for the invention of the stiletto heel in 1955.
However, while the French didn't have competition with their clothes, the Italians were masters of the mass-production of footwear, that they also exported to the USA. Thanks to the contacts of Ferragamo with Hollywood, these shoes became very popular amongst the Hollywood stars in the Fifties (Jane Mansfield had more than 200 pairs). The stiletto heel was now a synonym of "sex appeal".
Nevertheless, the medical profession blamed the high heel shoe for all types of problems, not only health (juvenile delinquency, for example).

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