Barrette boots by Gundry & Sons, c.1875-1885. Silk satin uppers, grosgrain lining, leather soles. Supposedly made for Alexandra, Princess of Wales (later Queen Alexandra, wife of Edward VII of England).
Women’s tennis shoes made by Joseph Box; English, 1886. Morocco leather uppers; kid lining; rubber soles. Made for the 1886 Colonial & Indian Exhibition in London. In this era, expert shoemakers would occasionally make a pair of “prize shoes;” intended to demonstrate the makers’ skill and cutting-edge style, the shoes were usually never worn. Tragic!
The Sisters Watson as “The Mashers” in an 1883 English production of Bluebeard, a burlesque by F.C Burnand (Phyllis Broughton played “Joliquet”). Victorian burlesque was sort of the Forbidden Broadway of its time, poking fun at the conventions of serious opera. Trouser roles were encouraged, especially ones where the actresses could show a little leg, but burlesque as striptease was a uniquely American “innovation.”