The shoes above were published in the October issue of VOGUE in 1939 as a design for the House of Balenciaga. However, this pair and the rest of the shoes you are about to see in this article were actually designed by a little-known designer called Steven Arpad (1904-1999), who worked mostly anonymously throughout his life in Paris.
The only existing documentation of Arpad’s unusual work is held with the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The collection of prototypes made in 1939, is accompanied by an archive of his original design sketches which has made it possible for the museum to identify Arpad’s uncredited shoe designs for major fashion houses such as Balenciaga.
Which shoe designs would you wear today?
This shoe was actually designed for the theatre, but I’m taken with the prow-like rims that seem to be swallowing the foot. Comfy? Perhaps not.
I think these blue suede summer sandals are my favorite.
Notice the detail in the enclosing material which provides an integrated threading system for the laces.
Arpad refines the simple moccasin.
In a thoughtful twist, Arpad has used haired leather to coordinate thematically with a ram’s head– yes that’s a ram’s head on the heal. Unfortunately, at first glance, it looks like there’s gum stuck to the shoe.
The ‘Hooded heel’.
With thanks to the Metropolitan Museum of Art for these images.