Fred Slatten (1922 – 2015)

fullThere was a wave of innovative shoe designers who all opened their businesses in about 1970. In London it was Terry de Havilland, in Vancouver it was Peter Fox and John Fluevog, in Toronto it was Master John, and in Los Angeles it was Fred Slatten. Born 10 October 1922 in Kansas City Missouri, Slatten began selling shoes while he was still attending college. In the late 1940s he moved to California and began working as a shoe buyer for Bullocks department stores. Eventually he ended up in the wholesale shoe business, and in 1970 Fred opened his Los Angeles shop on Santa Monica Boulevard near San Vicente.

6073fe3ff2e59bd4961531572a63431aWhen platforms became popular in the early 1970s, Slatten became famous for his towering, eccentric styles. Celebrities came to buy: Liberace, Cher, Elton John, and Sally Struthers who wore her Slatten platforms on All in the Family. Slatten’s boots, shoes and sandals were embellished by artists who hand-painted, decoupaged, gold leafed, airbrushed, and bedazzled the platform soles for their clients, often in styles inspired by ‘Old Hollywood’. Slatten also took credit for creating the apocryphal live goldfish swimming in a see-through platform.

His shop window was known for the outrageous shoes revolving on mirrored turntables, illuminated by disco balls. When platforms fell from fashion Slatten then became known for his high heel styles instead. Slatten closed his shop in 1992, when he turned 70, and died on July 1 at the age of 92.

Spread from TV Guide November 15, 1975:

platform-shoes-tvguide-nov15-21-1975-cher-carol-burnett platform-shoes-tvguide-nov15-21-1975-sally-struthers

About Jonathan

Jonathan Walford is a fashion historian and co-founder of the Fashion History Museum in Cambridge, Ontario. The FHM maintains a collection of nearly 12,000 artifacts dating from the mid 17th century to the present. Jonathan has authored various books and museum catalogues, including The Seductive Shoe, Shoes A-Z, Forties Fashion, 1950s American Fashion, and Sixties Fashion.
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5 Responses to Fred Slatten (1922 – 2015)

  1. manoleat says:

    I just want to congratulate to Bata Shoe Museums 20th birthday. It might look a bit out of place here but as I understand it you had not only a small part in building up that museum/collection. You might not have any relation anymore to them. Nevertheless part of the honour should be yours.
    manoleat

    • Jonathan says:

      Thank-you very much! It is a spectacular collection and a jewel in the crown of Toronto museums.

      • Thomas says:

        And I am very happy that the red/gold Bernhard Gronberg boots and an older black knee high button up pair from Bata are currently on display at the Shoes: Pleasure & Pain exhibition of the Victoria & Albert Museum, London. They won’t come nearer to me. I will visit the exhibition early November.
        Thomas/manoleat
        (Sorry for the confusion of names)

        • Jonathan says:

          I think the coral and gold boots from Bata are the ones in the photograph you have on your instagram of the woman reclining on the bed. They are beautiful boots!

          • Thomas says:

            yes, indeed they are. These pictures were originally printed in the magazine London Life. It is a series of about 6 or so.

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