Shoes are without remedies, definitely woman.
Heel, strap, they rhyme with feminine. If you say Mary Jane, it rhymes with… Alice in Wonderland, Dorothy from the wonderful wizard of Oz, even Winnie the Pooh’s Cristopher Robin. And it’s suddenly fairy tale!
Essential traits of Mary-Janes are the round toe, the strap on the instep and a low, chunky heel.
This style has been used largely for children footwear, since their first steps and with no sex distinction.
Max & Co
Her real biography begins with the publication of a comic strip, in 1902, on the New York Herald. The adventures of Buster Brown, the “boss” in a group of naughty children, which included his little sister, Mary Jane (The blond girl in the pics below:)
The enormous success of the comic stripes convinced the creator, Richard F. Outcault, to release to many manufacturing companies the licence to use his characters for their brands; so, amongst the others, Buster Brown became the trademark of footwear maker Brown Shoe Company, today industrial giant with an yearly turnover of more than 2 million dollars.
In 1904 a pioneering marketing campaign started to spread across all America’s shopping centres, that were populated by professional actors dressed as the characters of the comic.
Mary Jane gave her name to the strapped shoes, which started to slowly disappear from the boys’ wardrobes.
When the flappers, modern and anti-conformist women, wore Mary-Janes in the 20’s, they wanted to evoke the freshness of youth, the light-heartedness and the young spirit that characterised that age, so much it can be truthfully identified as the age of the Mary Jane!
Vintage 20’s shoes
From this moment on the mary jane started to undergo various modifications, in the shape and height of the heel, as well as the materials used.
The model changed through the ages, influenced by the trends and the peculiar social structure of each period.
In the 20’s were introduced transversal straps with contrasting stitching. In 1922 the T-bar strap was born, later used profusely for dancing performances (especially Tango), and reinterpreted in most ages after that!
Here’s for you a little tour in the history of Mary-Janes!
Cover Vogue America
Footwear created by Roger Vivier, ’60 vintage
Stunning and very colourful in intense yellow, these Mary-Janes with strings and drop carvings on the sides. Very Sixties!
A bit comic-style, a bit pop and gaudy these variations on the theme mary jane, directly from almost kitsch avant-garde of the 70’s.
From Louis Vuitton Fall-Winter collection 2011-12.
Mary Jane with very thin strap and high heel. High seduction.
Schiaparelli (on the left) and Maison Margiela (right). Unusual shapes and materials, curvaceous tips. 2015
…and after this journey, I’ll bring you in my wardrobe! A few shoots of my favourite Mary-Janes, which I bought a few years ago in Milan. Enjoy!
Vintage effect for the aged, metallised model with low heel, vaguely 70’s. T-bar strap, wooden heel.
Materials: Leather and wood
Brand: Ganzo. Made in Italy
See you soon for another story, another fairy-tale trip!