The Secrets of a Chopine

An X-Ray of an Italian Chopine

Chopines are the epitome of the platform shoe and are somewhat mysterious. How do they get to be so huge? What are they made of? Now you can see! Thanks to the X-Ray, this chopine’s secrets are revealed: it is constructed out of two blocks of wood held together with long iron spikes. If you look closely at the bottom of the shoe, you will see another iron nail at the peak of what looks like a little tent. This is a hollow, made to help stabilize the shoe. When you turn over a peanut butter jar or a water bottle, you will see a similar concave bump. You see, if the bottom was solid, it would not only be heavier, but the shoe would wobble horribly if the bottom wasn’t perfectly level.

The trim of this shoe is probably gilded, since it glows bright white in the X-Ray (you can see that the fabric and leather are a ghostly grey) and is held on by smaller finishing nails or tacks.

Wondering what this shoe looks like on the outside? Here’s a very similar pair at the Bata Shoe Museum:

You can learn even more about Chopines, History’s Greatest Shoes (in my humble opinion!) in The History of the Heel or Recreating Shoes from 1500-1910. Itching to make your own? Check out Francis Classe’s Make Your Own Chopines tutorial!

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