In Italy, it’s not just a shoe, but a way of life. It’s not just a heel, but, to borrow the words from Salvatore Ferragamo (the godfather of heels), it’s ‘an extension of a women’s leg’. Italian heels are the crème de la crème of designer shoes and most women dream of owning their own pair of Italian high heels!
So dedicated are the Italians to the quality of their shoes that they have museums such as the Ferragamo museum in Florence to celebrate the pioneers. Ferragamo was born in 1898 (in Naples) as the youngest son of a shoemaker and made his first pair of shoes at 9 years of age. He would go onto work in a cowboy boot factory in the USA, rise to become the ‘shoe maker of the stars’ in Hollywood, meet with bankruptcy several times, return to Italy and invent the wedge (when other materials were not available). His story of history, family, adventure, invention and passion for perfection is the soul (sole) to modern Italian heels.
Ferragamo even enrolled at the University of Southern California to study anatomy, where he was obsessed with fusing the extension of a women’s leg to a heel elegantly and comfortably. He eventually settled in Florence, where he designed and handmade shoes for the wealthiest and most powerful women of the century including Eva Peron and Marilyn Monroe. His granddaughter who now runs the dynasty invented the ‘vara pump’.
The Ferragamos are just one lineage of great Italian shoe makers. The names of other Italian greats also roll off the tongue with a sense of history, sophistication and drama: Sergio Rossi, Santoni and Gucci.
Hand-made Italian high heels are carefully created and traditionally made using leather and other natural materials. There is personal pride invested in each and every pair of Italian high heels.
The reality is that a pair of handmade Italian heels are always going to be much more expensive than a pair cheap high heels from a factory in the third world. However, they’ll last longer; they’ll tell discerning people you have attention to detail and may even become a collectable item.
To get well-priced hand-made Italian heels for under $1000 you need to do your research. Here are some hand-made Italian heels for less than $300.
Gucci’s Jacqueline Studded Heel Sued Pumps are currently available for around $289. They are made in Italy with a cone shape studded heel that’s just over 4 inches high. They were inspired by Jacky Kennedy and the jet set glamor of the 1960s and they won’t date.
Selena (from Italianheels.com) is a classic open-toed pump with very sexy 4.7 inch nickel heel and small platform under the front sole. The Selena is hand-made in patent grey, green, cherry or white goatskin leather. The sole is also quality Italian leather.
Laura (also from Italianheels.com) is an elegant, 4.7 inch spiked heel, thin strapped sandal (70s disco inspired) that will take you through many summers in style. It has a gold-buckled ankle strap that adds detail. It’s entirely hand-made from leather in Italy.
Gianfranco Ferre’s Peep Toe Heels Dress Shoes are currently available for around $90 online. This shoe is dark grey leather with, with two fine ankle straps, high Italian stilettos over a reinforced platform under $100.
Gianfranco Ferre’s Mesh Heels Ankle Bootie Dress Shoes are another Italian classic at a bargain price of around $90.