With a heel of about 5 1/2" and a platform sole roughly 3 1/2" thick, these dramatic boots are an extreme example of the platform shoes, sandals and boots popular in the first half of the 1970s. Perhaps even more notable then their extreme height is the fact that platform shoes of this era were worn by both men and women. In a final flowering of the Peacock Revolution, men wore platform boots and shoes featuring contrasting color combinations, appliques and exotic leathers with unusual finishes, including wet-look and crinkle leather. In 1972, a shoe salesman interviewed by the New York Times reported that his male customers were unafraid to experiment, saying that "the freakier the shoe, the higher the platform and heel, the better it sells."1
Many fashion writers of the 1970s referred to platform shoes as "40s shoes," because they had last been fashionable during the late 1930s and early 1940s. In the 1970s, platform shoes were considered the ideal pairing for a maxi skirt or flared trousers because their height elongated the silhouette. Conversely, platform sandals and boots could be paired with short hot-pants and a long coat, a look which created an impression of towering height. Though designers such as Roger Vivier and Yves Saint Laurent offered high-fashion versions of the platform, the most extreme styles retained an association with popular and/or street fashion. Because of their obvious theatricality, platform shoes were worn to great effect by performers such as KISS, David Bowie and Elton John (who reportedly had a large collection of platform shoes). Platform shoes were also associated with urban African-American fashion due to their frequent appearance in 1970s blaxploitation films such as Shaft.
Inevitably, some medical professionals insisted that high platform shoes could cause both immediate and future problems with the feet and lower back. They were also linked to car accidents, as studies demonstrated that thick soles led to slowed braking response times. Fortunately for those concerned with foot health, towering platform shoes were almost entirely out of fashion by about 1974. Contemporary variations on the platform shoe include Alexander McQueen's much discussed Alien shoes from his Spring 2010 Ready-to-Wear collection. Though it appears the Alien shoe will not go into production, podiatrists would probably have much to say about its extreme shape!
1 Taylor, Angela. "The 4-inch Heel Returns--But This Time It's for Men." New York Times 19 Feb. 1972: pg. 18.