Sunday, December 17, 2006

Red High Heels

I just finished reading Antonia Fraser's Love and Louis XIV: The Women in the Life of the Sun King and I was discussing it with a friend: the intricate, layered degrees of formality in language, title and dress, the lavish expenditure of the monarchy and the juggling of relationships (particularly those of the Sun King) in lives lead on the public stage of French court. My friend said, "Why don't you write a review of the book on your blog, but in rap? You could call it L14: His Bitches & Ho's. "

Oh. The red high heels* of the title?

Louis XIV, 1701
by Hyacinthe Rigaud**

* Quoting directly from my copy of Philip Mansel's Dressed to Rule: Royal and Court Costume From Louis XIV to Elizabeth II:

"One aspect of French court dress survives today. Red heels had been introduced by Louis XIV by 1673, probably to confirm the elevation of his court above the rest of humanity. Red heels, which were restricted to nobles with the right genealogical qualifications to be presented at court, demonstrated that the nobles did not dirty their shoes." Another proposed purpose was the red heels of nobility showed "...they were always ready to crush the enemies of the state at their feet." Talons rouges eventually became a synonym for French courtiers' futile insolence.

"Red heels remained part of formal wear at the French court, for members of the royal family and the noblesse présentée. From Versailles, red heels spread across Europe. They were worn by Louis XIV's greatest enemy, William III, and they can be seen in the coronation portraits of English, German and Austrian royalty. Today, red heels are still worn every year, at the state opening of British parliament in Westminster and the Garter Ceremony at Windsor, by the pages of Elizabeth II."

** The portrait by Rigaud was commissioned by Louis as a gift to Philip V of Spain. Louis was so enthralled with himself, not only did he keep it, but he commissioned a second copy for Versailles. The painting currently hangs in The Louvre.

"Work them kicks, Roi"


Blogger Momentary Academic said...

I have a pair of red italian heels. Yes. Time to break them out.

8:38 PM  
Blogger Washington Cube said...

MA: I was trying to remember the last time I wore red stilettos, then realized I couldn't add that little story into the mix. :x

9:11 PM  
Blogger Megarita said...

I only have summery red sandals. I need to invest in more regal footwear.

And, again, I have learned something at Casa Cube!

8:57 AM  
Blogger Reya Mellicker said...

Do pink high heels count? Or do they have to be red?

9:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And what should we make of the Pope's red Prada slippers?


1:42 PM  
Blogger Phil said...

So 'Prince' may simply be exerting his royal status, and not merely trying to overcome his 5'2" frame?

2:02 PM  
Blogger The View from Dupont said...

I remember seeing the copy that still hangs in Versailles - I bought a copy for myself, very short and 12 years old to give me hope that even short people can do great things if they only have the right pair of shoes!

4:13 PM  
Blogger cuff said...

You artfully dodged the request to provide a rap review of the book. Especially the nasty bits.

4:51 PM  
Blogger Washington Cube said...

Mega: My butt is too whipped to teach.

Reya: Red. Wasn't it Frank Zappa who sang "Brown Shoes Don't Make It?"

Grince: You're my link to the P Masta, so you tell me. :)

Phil: I remember seeing Purple Rain in the theatre with a highly vocal crowd. At one point, Prince was in a kissing scene, and an audience member yelled out "Itty Bitty Man (James Brown), you show them you no faggot. Heels help, I guess.

View: Funny. I had a print of Henry VIII as a baby on my nursery wall.

Cuff: Busted.

11:30 PM  
Blogger Ryane said...

Red high heels kick Ass. Although, in the ballet called, The Red Shoes, they drive poor Moira Shearer mad...

Antonia Fraser is an excellent writer. I will go look for that book next week.

9:05 AM  
Blogger The Lily said...

mmmmm shoooooooooooes.

There is nothing that brings out my confidence more than red shoes. I have a pair appropriate for every season for those days when I need an ego boost.

Great write-up.

9:42 AM  
Blogger Washington Cube said...

Ryane: "The Red Shoes" is a great, camp movie, and can her hair be any redder? Michael Powell directed it. Sometime check out another film of his "Peeping Tom," where this young man spies on women, murders them, then uses a movie camera to capture their expressions of terror approaching death. Just the thing for the holiday season.

The Lily: Red anything carries a ton of symbolism with it.

12:21 PM  
Blogger playfulinnc said...

I think I have GOUT so I will not be enjoying these pedilicious elements during the holiday season.

4:27 PM  
Blogger Washington Cube said...

Playful: L14 had gout! You are so....sympathique.

6:13 PM  
Blogger Phil said...

I saw him in concert last summer and he had tennis shoes with, at least, a 5" sole.

2:50 PM  
Blogger The Captain said...

Red high heels...wigs...and pantyhose. Is there really any question as why the American Revolution occurred 231 years ago?

Sure, you can use your arguments of oppression or taxation without representation, but I don't buy it. This country was founded on the basis of our women not having to wear eighteen layers of clothing, and our men not having to look like sissies.

Sure, George Washington and some of the others may have had a wig or two, and even a pair of hose, but there were no red heels anywhere, and as for the first two things, old habits die hard. You have to wean yourself off slowly. Wean yourself into manliness.

3:56 PM  
Blogger Velvet said...

Cube is back!

Lord, I thought this was going to be an ode to that horrible song by Kellie Pickler, "Red High Heels." Thank goodness it wasn't.

11:26 AM  
Blogger R2K said...

: )

11:40 AM  
Blogger Rob Lowe said...

Merry Crismakah, huh? That reminds me I need to catch up on the oc. Yea, I'm still lame.

Be well my friend


1:07 AM  
Blogger Eric said...

I don't know about men in heels nowadays, but back then royalty definitely rocked them!

7:35 PM  
Blogger katty said...

I love the high heels, because every time that i am wearing high heels i feel very elegant and change my style of walking, i feel more womanly and sexy. Because of that i prefer to use high heels when my boyfriend buy viagra we always have a great result.

2:56 PM  

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