When you think of Delman now, bet you don’t think of edgy shoes. No, the brand that is now owned by Nina footwear and sold in Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus is better known for traditional silhouettes (and is a go-to source for little heels). Well, when the brand was founded 93 years ago by Herman Delman in New York City, it was anything but traditional.
Image via Harper’s Bazaar
During Delman’s golden age from the 1930s-1950s the brand was synonymous with innovation. Most notable were Delman’s sandals that laced up the calf. The sandals were based on a pair of tango shoes he had made more than 20 years before for Irene Castle, the famous ballroom dancer. These were quite scandalous at the time. It was unheard of to reveal the entire foot and it definitely was not kosher to have lacing that drew the observer’s eye up the leg. It should come as no surprise that one of the brand’s loyal customers was Marilyn Monroe.
1940s Delman advertisement
Its also important to note that two of the greatest designers in the past century, Roger Vivier and Kenneth Jay Lane, produced designs for Delman during its heyday. During his time at Delman, Mr. Viver designed the custom shoes that Queen Elizabeth II wore to her 1953 coronation. These were later transformed into a ready-to-wear pair, something that was also quite revolutionary at the time. As Mr. Vivier said, “Le smart woman is le same everywhere.”
Queen Elizabeth wore Delman shoes to her 1953 coronation
While there’s nothing scandalous in Delman’s latest line of shoes, there are some lovely little heels in it. If for no other reason, buy them as a tribute to Delman, the shoe revolutionary.
Delman Spring 2013 available here.