Main content

Katy Brand explores the eclectic life of the high heel – from its place on the feet of men, as well as women, from royal courts to pornographic photography.

Katy Brand loves a high heel. Once known by friends and family for her ‘shoe fetish’, her dad even gave her a ceramic heel that could hold a wine bottle at a jaunty angle.

These days, Katy’s cherished heels from her torture days live in her cupboard. She has traded the pain for the statement trainer. But their art, history and construction still fascinate her.

So what is it about the high heel that has made it stand the test of time?

With the help of resident public historian, Greg Jenner, Katy explores the heel’s fascinating passage through time, finding a place on the feet of men, as well as women, in high and low places. Heels donned the feet of men on horseback in 17th century Persia, were adored by King Louis XIV, and gained an erotic currency with the invention of photography.

But how has science and engineering ensured the high heel’s survival?

Footwear Technologist, Mike George, shows us how the high heel is engineered, and how he can test if a particular design is teetering on the edge of safety. Social scientist, Heather Morgan, reveals the perceived benefits of wearing heels, as well as the risks when she fell foul to when fell in heels and broke her ankle.

Producer: Beth Eastwood

Available now

28 minutes

Last on

Last Wednesday 21:00

Broadcast