The Origin of French Heels
Originally, shoes sporting higher heels were introduced in order to allow ladies to walk high enough off the ground so that their skirts remained out of the mud. However, Catherine de Medici, from the rich and famous Italian family, brought a fashion of high heels to France in 1533. But it was more than 100 years after Catherine de Medici first introduced high heels as a fashion statement that French heels were developed. And they were developed to help a man get over his Napoleon complex (of course, this was before there was a Napoleon).
King Louis XIV (1638-1715) was a rather short man. In order to achieve a height he considered respectable, he wore special high heels. His shoes were made of leather dyed red and hand painted with scenes from his triumphs on the battlefield. The heels themselves were constructed of cork and also covered with red leather. Due to the king, sometimes French heels are also referred to as Louis heels. They are five inches tall and curved so that they came down from the back of the heel, inward toward the shoe, and then outward away from the shoe for a serpentine look.
Modern French Heels
Today rather than cork, many French heels are made from plastic. The upper is made of plastic, leather or fabric, while the sole is made of a hard plastic material, although some soles are now being made of more supportive and springy materials that provide better cushioning. Additionally, not all French heels are as high as Louis’s. Some of them maintain the curved heel shape, but on a shorter scale.
French heels can make a great fashion statement in any circle. And they are more practical for professional and everyday use than their straighter and higher cousins in the world of high heels.
source: Zappos Fashion Blog