Delicate French footwear would not have been common in Taranaki and this pair of opulent calf skin and silk shoes would have been sure to turn heads. The slip on shoes with Louis style heels are thought to date from the late 1600s to the early 1700s and feature a cream silk covering with an intricately embroidered flowing floral pattern in blue, silver and gold which continues onto the heels. The shoes have needlepoint toes and are fitted with a white kid lining. They are designed as ‘straights’ which means they can be worn on either foot.
Taranaki Museum records show they were donated by Miss Humphries in 1947, but their original owner and how they arrived in Taranaki is shrouded in mystery. Due to their age much of the silk covering is missing and that which remains is very fragile. They were painstakingly conserved in the mid 1990s after a generous fundraising effort from the Friends of Taranaki Museum.
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