Feet: Queen Victoria of England would never have named them

Feet, Queen Victoria of England would never have named them. Besides, they were carefully invisible under the big skirts. On the contrary, in recent times, a young red-haired bride, having just fled from a palace of that same royal court, led her foot back, naturally mirroring a suitable outfit, on those erotic and clear paths that had made it an object, associated with the fashion of footwear, of one of the most resistant fetishistic taboos.

Madame Récamier, the refined, cultured friend of de Chateaubriand

Madame Récamier, the refined, cultured friend of de Chateaubriand, with perfect elegance, limply reclining in a light white dress on the daybed, has bare feet.

Jacques-Louis David, Madame Récamier (around 1800, Musée du Louvre)

In this same position, in the 1800s, the slightly bored and very mischievous young lady, with one of those house clothes that nevertheless made it possible to receive friends, could evoke the whole erotic charge of her foot by throwing now one, now the other slipper to catch it on the fly by hooking it with the tip of the big toe put it back on and start over.

This seductive technique, recommended by the manuals of the art of pleasure, has never made inroads among Chinese women who, until not-so-distant times, would have neither desired nor been able to put it into practice: their feet were bound by impossible bandages to make them tiny and pretty to look at, but hidden in their horror and never naked.

Cinderella’s crystal shoe

On the small foot

Ladies and gentlemen agree on the small foot, made even more minute by tight-fitting boots, for almost the entire 1900s, with the almost sole exception of Greta Garbo‘s interest in the large ones. This canon is shipwrecked in the flat, masochistic boots of grown-up turn-of-the-century girls. Intuitively they must have foot sizes that perhaps even men did not reach at the time of the crinoline.

But, now dethroned by all that flushed nineteenth-century interest, not even sandals offer the bare foot (the latest fashion accompanies them with stockings), in an atmosphere of gymnastic shoes or Chinese slippers, at the end of summer.

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