Text Luciano Lapadula
We do not often understand the paths that lead a piece of cloth to become a fashion piece. This is the case of cuissardes, whose name and model derive from the boots adorned with metal cuirasses, used by chivalry officers in action in France in the Eighteenth century. One century later, women used to fasten both corsets and similar shoes, which starting from the Roaring Twenties, became fetish items sold by correspondence by the Parisian brands Yva Richard and Diana Slip. Those flaunted by Bettie Page in the Fifties during her Burlesque shows were as transgressive as Bilbrew’s illustrations.
With the advent of mini skirt, in the following decade, cuissardes became a cult piece: they covered legs creating a sexy and anti-conformist image, made of leather or vinyl they were called Kinky. Honor Blackman worn them in the series Special Agent and she recorded a successful piece entitled Kinky Boots, Brigitte Bardot worn them in the Harley Davidson music video, Jane Fonda worn them in colour silver in the movie Barbarella. Roger Vivier created a model in crocodile for Yves Saint Laurent while Pierre Cardin paired them with mini-dresses, style adopted in Italy by Patty Pravo and Mina. In 1990, Julia Roberts in the film Pretty Woman was a Cinderella wearing boots that the following year would have run Gianni Versace catwalk in many different colours.
When the austere general George Patton declared: «A soldier wearing shoes is just a soldier. If he wears boots, he becomes a warrior », he would have not imagined that cuissardes would have made a woman a wonderful amazon.