Shoes : The Complete Sourcebook, Hardback

Shoes : The Complete Sourcebook Hardback

4.5 out of 5 (1 rating)


Here, in over 2,000 specially drawn illustrations, is the most comprehensive and detailed history and sourcebook of shoes ever published.

John Peacock charts the development of every kind and style of footwear for both men and women from earliest times to the present day.

Reproduced in meticulous detail and full colour is a host of representative examples of footwear: the simple sandals of ancient Egypt, made from natural fibres and held onto the foot with narrow thongs; the embroidered and bejewelled shoes of the Byzantine empire; the fantastic pike-toed boots newly fashionable in the fourteenth century; the hugely exaggerated platform heels of the sixteenth century; and, eighteenth-century silk slippers; as well as a huge range of contemporary shoes, from brogues and baseball boots, stilettos and winklepickers, to today's fashion footwear in radical materials and experimental styles.

Neatly arranged in six chronological sections, the pictures are accompanied by full descriptions, including details of all materials, heel and toe styles, decorations including embroidery and beading, and fastenings including buttons, laces and ribbons. An invaluable reference section includes an at-a-glance time chart showing the development of footwear through the ages, a concise bibliography, and biographies of the worlds leading shoe designers and companies, including Salvatore Ferragamo, Charles Jourdan, Terry de Havilland and Manolo Blahnik.


  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 168 pages, 2000 colour illus
  • Publisher: Thames & Hudson Ltd
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Fashion & society
  • ISBN: 9780500512128



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I waffled between 4 and 5 stars for this. I think Peacock could do with some slightly more accurate titles. This is a history of western European shoes, with ancient Mesopotamia, Greece and Egypt thrown in for length. Beyond those, there is nothing on even eastern Europe, let alone Asia, Africa, etc. I also suspect from his books that Peacock does not really approve of our casual age. I saw only a single tennis shoe; none of the clogs and earth shoes that were so typical of the late 1960s and early 1970s; and none of the elaborate athletic shoes. Peacock does say that he is focusing chiefly on fashionable shoes, but I think that the high-end athletic shoes qualify as designer models, even if the other don't.Given that, it's wonderful for what it does cover. Men's shoes are included. My favorite part is the ancient shoes; I have never seen such a variety illustrated.The pages have small but clear drawings of usually 7 or 8 shoes per page, with minimal labelling. More detailed labelling follows. The time length covered by each section varies; as one might expect, shorter period are covered for more recent shoes. This is not as lush as the photographic collections of shoes, but I think it's more helpful as a history, especially for older styles which may have been reconstructed from fragments.The introduction gives a brief history of the development of the shoes. There is a timeline where the shoes are reproduced as outline drawings to get a idea of the flow of change. This is followed by a concise history of designers and companies, and a bibliography.So, it doesn't have a scholarly historical text, I don't recommend it for people as a book for gaping over startling shoes, but it is a very good visual history.