The History of Ballet Flats

Ballet flats are always a “yes!” No matter the occasion or outfit, flats are so versatile—that’s why they can be found in almost every woman’s wardrobe. Their special cut and form emphasizes the arch of the foot, and makes legs look magically long. So where did this characteristic cut originate? Who created the first pair of ballet flats?


The history of flats goes way back into the 1600s. Throughout the Renaissance, men and women alike wore flat shoes with a pointed toe. The length of the shoe’s point was an indicator of nobility—the more noble the aristocrat, the longer the shoe’s point. However, it was the wedding of the future Queen of France—Catherine de Medici—which changed the trend. For her wedding, she wore shoes with a high heel in order to further raise herself up from all the other nobles. From then on, flat shoes became passé.


Ballet shows were performed in shoes with heels for almost 70 years until Marie Camargo, a French dancer, decided to wear flat shoes for her performance. The Italian shoemaker and Ballet outfitter Salvatore Capezio then developed a special shoe with a flat sole and a special cut: ballet flats as we know them today.

origin ballet flats


One of the most important names in the history of ballet flats is Rose Repetto. In 1947, Rose—the mother of a famous dancer named Roland Petit—made some changes to his dancing shoes, which made them more comfortable than before. The comfortable dance shoes were a huge success, and Rose Repetto was able to open her own small manufacturing production in Paris. Then towards the end of the 1900s, these ballerina shoes caught the eye of fashion designer Claire McCardell. She showed them in one of her collections, and then just a few years later, ballet flats hit the cover of the New Yorker’s Vogue magazine. The hype around these new shoes was enormous. International actresses like Brigitte Bardot and Audrey Hepburn wore them with delight in films like “Et Dieu crea la femme,” “Cinderella in Paris,” and “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.”


Since then, it’s been impossible to imagine a shoe collection without ballet flats. They’re versatile, comfortable and work for every occasion. You can wear ballet flats with casual outfits, evening wear or even with elegant business looks. Even in the Haute-Couture fashion world, designers like Giorgio Armani, Michael Kors and Christian Dior show flats in various forms and colors.


At GIESSWEIN, we find ballet flats to be a super complement to our beloved Merino Sneakers. That’s why we developed flats, which are made of 100% recycled PET plastic and a sustainable natural rubber sole. Thanks to our unique 3D-Knit Technique, the shoe molds to fit each individual foot. Plus, with our Fit System, you can adjust the size of our flats up to 1/2 a size smaller—for even more comfort. Our sustainable flats are ideal for all types of weather, as they’re both water-repellent and washable. Choose between two fits: pointy or round, depending on which best fits your personal style.

Ballet flats Giesswein

Want to know how our ballet flats are made? Find it out in our blog post: How plastic bottles become chic ballet flats

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