Platform shoes were born in the 16th century as symbol of wealth

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They are synonymous with the 1970s, but the fashion for platform heels began in the 16th century as a symbol of extreme wealth, a new exhibition reveals.

Impractically high heels, known as chopines, were worn by upper-class women in Italy and Spain during the late Renaissance era.

The higher the heel, the longer - and therefore more expensive - the dress needed to cover them, and the more servants needed to support the wearer.

The exhibition at the Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto features more than 60 pairs of rare shoes, the tallest of which is a pair of Venetian chopines measuring nearly 20 inches (50cm).

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