Saturday, March 22, 2008

Bootleg Sin

Maniatis Bottier Maniatis Bottier

Maniatis Bottier (French, founded 1920). Boots, 1920s. Left: Black leather, gold leather trim, and black twined cotton laces. Alfred Z. Solomon-Janet A. Sloane Endowment Fund, 2007 (2007.56a, b). Right: Red leather with black leather trim. Alfred Z. Solomon-Janet A. Sloane Endowment Fund, 2007 (2007.57a, b).

Maniatis, who was born in Greece, provided customized footwear for the likes of Cary Grant and Jean Gabin from his Paris shop in the ninth arrondissement. His location, near the Pigalle red-light district, perhaps helps to explain the design of these boots. They do not appear to be made for the stage, as their soles—original—are only lightly worn. They are also not of any fashionable style of the 1920s. In fact, they are most similar to late-nineteenth-century designs. While the exaggeratedly high and narrowed heel suggests a detail originating in the fetish community, the uppers appear to be cobbled from the conventional design of a Belle Epoque boot but with the addition of another panel to extend it over the thigh.

Although The Costume Institute collection comprises fashionable examples of dress and accessories from the last three centuries, an exception was made for these fetish boots, with their extremely high and tapered heels. The boots anticipate by at least a decade the stiletto heels of postwar fashion and illustrate the incorporation of designs originating from a world of highly specialized and esoteric tastes into the larger, ostensibly more normative, culture. The tendency of fashion to co-opt taboo and exotic elements from other periods, cultures, or, as in this instance, the demimonde, is one strategy employed for its constant reinvigoration.

Comments (39)

  1. meimi1995529 Says:

    i think these would be SO painful to wear

  2. -Alexandria Says:

    These shoes definately made my visit of this exhibit worth while!… The are absoloutly amazing!… how could something be so elegant, classy, and sexy at the same time?…! for me shoes are a passion and i would totally kill to own a pair of these!… XOXO<33

    -Alexandria<33 :)

  3. momo Says:

    heyy these are so kool
    but who would bye these when they are so long
    no1’s legs are these long
    but bye

  4. jenny Says:

    These are the coolest shoes EVER!!!!!!!!

  5. catherine Says:

    sex on legs x

  6. Kat Says:

    Theese Boots Are HOT I couldn’t get over how much I loved them!
    They were one of the fiercest thing her I<3 Them So Frekin Much!!!

  7. Amy Says:

    I am glad that an exception was made for these boots. The 1920’s saw many works of art begin to explore fetishes, such as the work of Man Ray’s. Thank you for including these.

  8. Laurie Aron Says:

    I was fascinated by this early invention of the modern heel, and also by how the ladies who wore these boots did not have such svelte thighs as you imagine the 20s ideal to be. Maybe not just the boots, but the figures of the women themselves were a throwback to the 19th century and a fetish in itself, so much more interesting than a skinny woman in a straight Chanel dress.

  9. Jacobo Says:

    They are fantastic for fishing…

  10. The Monitor Says:

    These boots are awesome. I thought they were Victorian at first. I noticed that several designers had high lace-up boots in their fall 2008 rtw collections. Everything old is new again …

  11. IJH Says:

    This is my favorite piece of your collection. It does demonstrate how a supposed subculture infiltrates normative society. However, just because a thing appears to be exotic or subversive does not mean that it is necessarily of a fringe nature but rather perhaps an indicator of changing mores and values in greater society. Often what becomes acceptible to countercultures becomes normative in future generations. I don’t think that boots such as these should be an exception to your collection, based on its genesis or aesthetics, but rather one of many items which touch on the diverse aspects of human nature.

  12. Rumistatt Says:

    As a male who loves heels and sexy footwear, I would love to have some beasts like these.

  13. Matthew Says:

    These are a sin!

  14. Alex Says:

    I’m a fetishist. I hope it’s OK for me to post here.

    There’s always been a kind of conversation taking place between fetish and couture.

    When I saw those boots at the Met, the thing that struck me was the statement, repeated here in this blog, that the boots anticipated mainstream use of high heels by at least a decade.

    That’s interesting to me, because of course today high heels are everywhere. High heels are really central to fashion in a lot of ways. But at one time, maybe they were probably bizarre, and part of a fetish ghetto.

    But at the same time, people like me — fetishists — aren’t really welcome in discussions about fashion. We provide a lot of juice for fashion — a lot of passion, and a lot of inspiration — but we’re not really welcome.

    I used to live in Chicago, and I went to the fashion library at the school of the art institute. I took my laptop, and a portable scanner, and I spent a couple of days looking at books about gloves. And they were really happy that I was interested, and all of that, but then I said — I’m a fetishist — and it was kind of over. I didn’t want to make people uncomfortable, so I didn’t go back.

    But I can see things happening on the streets — and it really seems to me that in ten years, a lot of what women will be doing with their hands will be informed, if not driven, by what fetishists like myself are into today.

    I don’t know how to explain this, exactly. Clothes have power for me. It seems to me that those of us who love clothes out to have more common ground. There’s quality and creativity in couture that we can’t come close to in the fetish scene.

    So what I’m saying is, if these boots predate mainstream high heel use by more than a decade, then that shows that couture has been feeding off of fetishism for a long time, and that the things that have been taken from fetishism are central to fashion today.

    And if that’s true, I wish I wasn’t made to feel so much like a creepy guy in a raincoat. I’m not that guy. Really.

    I will be surprised if this goes up and stays up. And impressed, I guess.


  15. Ruthy Says:

    these boots are so fantabulous!
    i want a pair for me.
    they are so brilliantly designed!!
    i think that fashion designers today should take after these wonderful designs!

  16. Ruthy Says:

    insanely hotttt!

  17. Gabi Says:

    I would 100% wear these boots now! They’re so fabulous and so chic! Almost something Kate Moss or Sienna Miller would wear…so cute!!

  18. chelssea Says:


  19. hannah Says:

    these boots r sooo HOT!!!! omg!!! i would do anything 2 own them!!!ah i love them ssooooo much!!!!

  20. SarahCara Says:

    OMG talk about slut or what!!!!

  21. BelindaAsha Says:


  22. michaela Says:

    they r long

  23. Haley Wood Says:

    I think what creates such a sexual impression about these boots is the fact that they are shaped like a woman’s leg, an entire leg. The silhouette is the same as the body and the colors, red and black are not that of the human skin. this contrast it what draws our attention to them, that makes them shocking and sexy.

  24. Kat Says:

    Just about the coolest shoes ever.

  25. gia hattie Says:

    how do you walk in these shoes? they r way to high! but they r still really nice.

  26. Randy Says:

    Alex, I agree with you entirely. I am a straight male interested in fashion and what are undoubtedly the “fetishist” elements of it: boots, gloves, heels, etc. I find it funny that while the mainstream public might consider us weirdos, the fact is that couture and even ready-to-wear has always been intrigued with fetishy design elements and what was considered kinky or costumey a few years ago is commonplace now. Look at the prevelance of patent leather, gloves, or boots with lacing or cuffs or other details. Even thigh-high boots, once off-limits, are on the runways and even in high-end lines like Burberry Prosum. Seeing them on the high street is not far off.

    I think this is, as you say, an evolutionary thing. The important thing is to reserve judgement about what is, or is not, “kinky” and enjoy the sociological phenomenon that fashion is!

  27. Lauren Says:

    I dont see how any human foot can fit into those boots, the proportions are off but the red boots are just amazing and really bring out the era and i love them :)

  28. joe smith Says:

    STEP OFF!!!! THEYRE MINE!!!!!!!!!!!

  29. lilly Says:

    i think that these boots are terrible. they look like a snake hunt has just ended and they disgust me tremendously. they would be better if they were shorter.

  30. missmamei Says:

    Sinfully sexy! Now we know why people had so many kids. LOL :-)

  31. Douglas Says:

    These boots are bodacious kinky……

  32. the circumstances of her disappearance « Hair Shirt Says:

    […] - blue-stockings in fishnets? - wearing a three-foot tall powdered wig, cropped court gown, and those fabulous fetish boots at the Met. Can we get our dildos custom-made to match our shoes? Clients can feed us grapes until we get […]

  33. honor bailey-rosse Says:

    now these are some buff boots lol

  34. Lena Says:

    These boots are ingenious! Not sure if I would wear them though :)

  35. Isara Says:

    Alex and Randy, I agree with you both.

    Remember that a person who is identified as “kinky” is one who enjoys things which are not completely accepted by mainstream culture. Once those things become familiar and adopted by the mainstream, it is no longer identified as being something “kinky” (I use this term instead of “fetish” due to the fact that a fetish has a very specific sociological meaning which doesn’t really apply here - one can have a fetish for high-heeled boots, but that doesn’t apply to the culture as a whole, just the individual).

    The long-legged and buttoned elements of these boots are unique to the mainstream, so I would call these boots kinky or boots for those with boot or high-heel fetishes.

    All that aside, as art objects, who do I have to kill to get a pair of these? ZOMG!!!

  36. annulla Says:

    It was surprising to see these unusual boots in the middle of the exhibit, but it seemed as though no one could pass their case without stopping and staring. There is something extraordinarily modern, yet timeless, about both the boots and the reactions they evoke in viewers.

  37. VASILIOS Says:

    Bravo to the Metropolitan Museum of Art for finally catching up with the world of technology where everyone can communicate with each other and as well as realizing that “museum presentation” does not have to follow a tombstone exhibition anymore.
    All of the pieces in this exhibit are phenomenal; the MANIATIS boots, my favorites, are certainly made for walking on a street of another kind, and are genius. This is the stuff that dreams are made of and young designers today need for inspiration to create for tomorrow.
    Forever yours,

  38. Susannah Says:

    I think that these boots are very high and must have only fit women with high legs and small feet. They are very old shoes.

  39. Anastasia G Says:


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