Christian Dior sketch, late 1940sRene GruauRene Gruau s.a.r.l.
Christian Dior sketch, late 1940s
Rene Gruau
Rene Gruau s.a.r.l.

Teacher's Resources

HEIGHTS OF FASHION: A History of the Elevated Foot

Classroom Activities & Projects

One of the central concepts of the web exhibition 'Heights of Fashion' is that fashion is a means of communication. Footwear, as all fashion, sends powerful messages about social status, gender, and ideals of beauty. Using the high heel shoe as an example, the exhibition shows that political, social, and economic events influence fashion styles and individual clothing choices throughout history. Materials, shapes, and height of heel are all expressions of society and culture at large.

Fashion is also a highly personal expression of the wearer's identity. A certain style, material, accessory, or pair of shoes says 'this is part of who I am'; in this way fashion establishes relationships between one person and another.

The following activities were created to introduce high school fashion students (gr. 11 in the Ontario curriculum) to the concept of fashion as a means of communication. The exhibition and the ideas below can also be useful for history teachers. Using high heels as an example, the activities enable students to connect historic eras with typical period fashions and styles. The activities encourage individual research and presentation skills, and aim to hone students' personal observation skills.