About

Kenn Norman established Kickshaw Productions in 1986 as a museum gift shop product development company. Over the years Kenn’s side of the business evolved to include management consulting and professional coaching. His partner, Jonathan Walford, worked part time for Kickshaw, creating museum exhibitions and presenting history of fashion lectures. In 1999 Jonathan left his position of curator of the Bata Shoe Museum and joined Kickshaw Productions full time as the Artistic Director, creating travelling fashion-related museum exhibitions and writing books on various aspects of the history of fashion. Jonathan and Kenn founded the Fashion History Museum (FHM) in 2004 and many of the services created by Kickshaw are now operated by the FHM. 

Kenn Norman is now the Chair and CEO, and Jonathan Walford is now the Curatorial Director of the FHM. Jonathan began blogging about the fashion world on the Kickshaw Productions website in October 2008.

61 Responses to About

  1. Mark Keil says:

    Hi Jonathon,

    I apologize in advance if this is an improper place or way to ask you a question. From what I have been able to gather in various places, including Vintage Fashion Guild, Etsy, and Googling, no one knows vintage shoes like you do.

    My friend saw a photograph of a young lady wearing a pair of shoes she would very much like to locate and I am trying to assist her in the challenge of identification and then location. The photo was taken in 1979, of Ms. Dorothy Mays, for Playboy’s July 1979 issue. The shoes Ms. Mays is wearing look like a single-toned modified saddle shoe of some kind. The soles are crepe, or look that way, with a very low heel, and the uppers are in white leather with tan trim at the margins.

    I have tried all sorts of tricks, to the limit of my available programs – a cut above MS Paint – to no avail in attempting to get the label to show up better. It appears to say AES…something or other, but even this I can’t be sure of. Googling on variations of these letters and hypothetical ones that follow have yielded no results.

    I am sure that you are very busy, but as I told her, there must be some kind of expert on these things out there, and that’s arrived me here. So, I am wondering if you would please be willing to take a glance at the photos and perhaps render some gracious opinion on this. I have three photos – a cropped one from the original, an “enhanced” (I use that term very very lightly) version of that photo to try to show the label better, and one other B & W one taken at a greater distance showing her wearing them.

    If this is not the place to make such an inquiry, and you still have a moment to reply, perhaps you can point me in a more fruitful direction with regard to this endeavor.

    Thanks so much in advance for any information you may be able to provide.

    Sincerely,

    Mark

  2. Alex Luprete says:

    Hey Kenn or Johnathan:

    I ran across this blog while looking for a “vintage shoe historian.” You guys seem to be the go-to people for vintage shoes according to my google search. I hope this doesn’t come off as odd, but I have a pair of shoes that belonged to grandpa. He passed away about a decade ago and I was curious about them. I’d be wearing them if they fit because they’re really cool, but since they don’t — I don’t know if they’re worth hanging on to.

    I was wondering, if you have time of course, if I could send you a picture of them and you can tell me what exactly they are? I know they’re Cole Haan’s, my guess is they’re from the 60’s. Not 100% sure of course. I was hoping this is where you could come in.

    Hopefully it’s not too big of an inconvenience. I’d be willing to make a contribution for your time if need be.

    Thanks.
    Alex

    • Jonathan says:

      HI Alex; If you would like to send me some photos c/o kickshaw@rogers.com I will take a look, but I can’t promise I will know anything that will help. Men’s footwear is difficult to be too specific in dating.
      Jonathan

  3. Where can I purchase a copy of Ready To Tear?

    • Jonathan says:

      Hi Michelle – I was going to mention either Etsy, or Amazon.ca, however, I see a sale just came through from Etsy, so I think you just found it!
      Thanks

      Jonathan

      • Rui says:

        Hi Jonathon,I apologize in aacndve if this is an improper place or way to ask you a question. From what I have been able to gather in various places, including Vintage Fashion Guild, Etsy, and Googling, no one knows vintage shoes like you do.My friend saw a photograph of a young lady wearing a pair of shoes she would very much like to locate and I am trying to assist her in the challenge of identification and then location. The photo was taken in 1979, of Ms. Dorothy Mays, for Playboy’s July 1979 issue. The shoes Ms. Mays is wearing look like a single-toned modified saddle shoe of some kind. The soles are crepe, or look that way, with a very low heel, and the uppers are in white leather with tan trim at the margins.I have tried all sorts of tricks, to the limit of my available programs a cut above MS Paint to no avail in attempting to get the label to show up better. It appears to say AES something or other, but even this I can’t be sure of. Googling on variations of these letters and hypothetical ones that follow have yielded no results.I am sure that you are very busy, but as I told her, there must be some kind of expert on these things out there, and that’s arrived me here. So, I am wondering if you would please be willing to take a glance at the photos and perhaps render some gracious opinion on this. I have three photos a cropped one from the original, an enhanced (I use that term very very lightly) version of that photo to try to show the label better, and one other B & W one taken at a greater distance showing her wearing them.If this is not the place to make such an inquiry, and you still have a moment to reply, perhaps you can point me in a more fruitful direction with regard to this endeavor. Thanks so much in aacndve for any information you may be able to provide.Sincerely,Mark

        • Jonathan says:

          Send me photos to kickshaw@rogers.com

          Jonathan

        • Auth says:

          Hey Kenn or Johnathan:I ran across this blog while lokoing for a vintage shoe historian. You guys seem to be the go-to people for vintage shoes according to my google search. I hope this doesn’t come off as odd, but I have a pair of shoes that belonged to grandpa. He passed away about a decade ago and I was curious about them. I’d be wearing them if they fit because they’re really cool, but since they don’t I don’t know if they’re worth hanging on to. I was wondering, if you have time of course, if I could send you a picture of them and you can tell me what exactly they are? I know they’re Cole Haan’s, my guess is they’re from the 60 s. Not 100% sure of course. I was hoping this is where you could come in.Hopefully it’s not too big of an inconvenience. I’d be willing to make a contribution for your time if need be.Thanks.Alex

          • Jonathan says:

            Hi Alex, you can send me a pic of the shoes first – that way I can tell you if I can help you to begin with.

            Jonathan

  4. julie morse says:

    Do you think people’s attitude has changed towards paper clothing since the turn of the century ? If so why do you think this is.Julie

    • Jonathan says:

      Honestly, I don’t think most people even think about the idea of paper clothing as much of today’s clothing is treated as disposable because its so cheap!

  5. Dear Mr Walford!
    I read your post about hats on the Vintage Fashion Guild blog.
    Thank you for a great piece!
    Could you please let me know in which museum/ collection the “American woven straw bonnet, c. 1800” is located?
    Thank you,
    Monika Stebbins

    • Jonathan says:

      Hi Monika;
      I forgot that article was still there – I wrote it ten years ago! That bonnet is in the Fashion History Museum collection here in Cambridge, Ontario. I acquired it in the States in the late 1980s.

      Jonathan Walford

  6. marija says:

    hi Jonathan,
    your name and profile came up in my search for Bernath brand. A year ago I have found an old coat in my grandmother’s house, she is no longer around and I could not find anything about this maker. The label says Bernath, 551 madison avenue, new york. I would be very grateful if you could share any information about it. thank you very much in advance. marija

    • Jonathan says:

      Hi Marija;
      I don’t know why my name came up in a search for the Bernath brand because its not one I am familiar with. I recall the name came up in connection with something else, but I don’t remember now, sorry.
      Jonathan

    • Jonathan says:

      I have done up a bit of a history about Bernath for you now…

  7. Fred Rubin says:

    Hi Jonathan–

    Your name came up in a Google search I was doing regarding my late grandfather who was the Pessident of Newton Elkin Shoe Company until his passing in 1962. He had won some fashion design awards. In your work as a fashion historian do you have any info/news clips on any of the people associated with that company? Please reply privately. Thanks very much. FDR

    • Jonathan says:

      Thank-you for contacting me. Sorry, but no I don’t have any news clips etc. from that company

  8. Dear Sires”
    Could you please find for me a fashion illustrator Jean Miller that produced so meany fine fashion illustrations for the Room I met mrs miller in 1957 and find it very sad that there is nothing on her coected to Robert Simpsons dept store any information I would appreciate for she represent a fine image for Robert simpson store.
    Thank you for your time. frederick watson.

    • Jonathan says:

      I’m sorry Frederick, but I don’t have any information about her. I wish I did. People like this back then tended to work in obscurity, never receiving credit for their creative input. If I find any information about Jean Miller, I will be sure to post it.

  9. Marnie Sweet says:

    Perhaps I overlooked it. Where is the subscribe button for your interesting blog?
    Thank you,
    Marnie
    Akron, OH

    • Jonathan says:

      Hi Marnie – thanks for your comment. I’m not sure how to add a subscribe button, but its an excellent idea. I will ask my web guy the next time I do an update and will let you know.
      Jonathan

      • Hi Jonathan

        If you are using WordPress (which I think you are), I can help you add a “Subscribe” button. Remind me the next time we meet! Lovely blog by the way….I want to subscribe too!

        Deb

        • Jonathan says:

          I thought I had a subscribe button added already, but I am not the most techy person in the world… If you can figure out how to add it, please let me know.
          Jonathan

  10. Betsy Malcolm says:

    Can you subscribe me to your blog? I can’t find the subscribe button. Thanks!

    • Jonathan says:

      Hi Betsy, I don’t know how!
      However, I am looking into how to add a subscriber button.
      Jonathan

  11. Julia says:

    Dear Jonathan,

    I’m so happy to have found your websites. My grandfather Ben Benjamin was a shoe designer and original founding partner for Schwartz & Benjamin Inc. Later he was the General Manager for the I. Miller factory in Long Island City. You may find my blog interesting. As a child I recorded our conversations about his early days in the shoe business and he gave me many of his memorabilia, including patterns and notebooks from when he was an apprentice in London. I love the Sears advertisement of Shirley Temple and look forward to visiting the Bata Shoe Museum some day soon!

    http://womensfootwearinamerica.com/2014/02/07/the-back-story/

    https://www.google.nl/patents/USD93758?dq=ininventor:%22Benjamin+Benjamin%22&hl=en&sa=X&ei=nIj7UvKMGqHQ0wGxooCwDA&ved=0CEIQ6AEwAg

    • Jonathan says:

      I’m very familiar with Schwartz & Benjamin and included them in my books The Seductive Shoe, and Shoes A-Z. Thank-you for the links – I will enjoy reading through them!
      Jonathan

  12. Melissa Montanez says:

    Hi,

    Hi,

    HuffPost Live, The Huffington Post’s streaming network, is hosting a segment with Caitlyn Becker on Fashion Trends Then & Now Friday, September 5, at 12:30pm/EST.

    We would like to include your perspective and expertise.

    Might you be available via webcam for about 30 minutes at that time?

    If so please provide your phone number so we can communicate further.

    We have our guests join via webcam using Google Hangout (very easy to setup/use, and I can help with all). Please contact me at your earliest convenience, and I’d be happy to provide additional details. Feel free to call me on my cell 862.262.3556 as well.

    Thanks,
    Melissa Montanez

  13. Hi Jonathon
    I came across your blog while searching for millinery floral die cutters. Can you please direct me to where I can purchase some?

    • Jonathan says:

      Sorry can’t help

      • Susie Kosovic says:

        Hello again Jonathan,

        I found your other blog about an hour ago and I sent you a message.
        I am posting here as it appears to be a more recent blog.

        I am the missing Susie Kosovic. Yes I am still here.
        I changed my name in 1969 when I remarried.
        I became Susie Hayward, so any press after that is under this name.
        I went on to do many things after Poupee Rouge. I didn’t just vanish.
        I would be happy to speak to you .Please feel free to contact me at the email adress attached.

        Susie Kosovic/Susie Hayward.

  14. Matthew Hunter says:

    Hello Jonathan,

    I’m assuming you are the same Jonathan Walford, historian, that wrote an excellent article on the History of Sandals – http://fashion-history.lovetoknow.com/fashion-accessories/history-sandals

    I would like to find out more about the sandals in Egyptian society (you mention that only certain ranks of society were allowed to wear sandals). Could you please point me in the direction of further information (books or articles) by yourself or others on this topic?

    Many thanks,
    Matthew

    • Jonathan says:

      Hi Matthew. I wrote that article a long time and I can’t remember the exact source for that information – did I not have a source list at the end of that article (I don’t have a copy of that article anymore and I dn’t own the encyclopedia set it was written for so I can’t check.)

  15. Anna Lena Pickhardt says:

    Dear Mr. Walford,

    a few years back, I contacted you about your book “Ready to tear” on the paper dress phenomenon of the late 60s (you sent me a hand signed issue :)) I have since been researching the fashion and am currently writing my thesis on some of its aspects. I was looking more closely into the throw away mentality of american consumer culture and its genesis. While doing so, I came across the extensive rationing of consumer industries during WWI and WWII. I then of course, found your book “Forties Fashion” – I was wondering whether you examine US-American rationing and regulations of the fashion industry. Just recently, the Imperial War Museum published its exhibition catalogue “Fashion on the Ration” and the big question for me is, in how far the American rationing situation is comparable to the British. I would be very thankful for your reply.

    Sincere regards, A. Lena Pickhardt

    P.S.: I hope the museum has come along to your satisfaction!

    • Jonathan says:

      Hi Lena; There is a chapter about U.S. rationing and regulations during WWII. The rules differed from Britain mostly by restricting manufacturers than consumers – they were easier to monitor and punish for transgressions. The book is available on Amazon, and most good libraries should have it. I believe it is even for sale in the Imperial War Museum gift shop. The museum just opened June 27 for previews and can now be visited Wed-Sun, noon to 5 p.m.
      Hope this helps.
      Jonathan

  16. Francesca says:

    Dear Mr. Walford,

    I am currently completing a dissertation on women and their relations to stilettos, and in my historical look at the stiletto, I came across an excerpt from your look at women’s shoes which noted that a precursor to the stiletto may have actually emerged in the late sixteenth century (which was not the chopine as I understood). Is this so? I have not been able to locate any examples, but would love to. I would greatly appreciate your help in locating these if they do exist.

    Thank you,
    Francesca

    • Jonathan says:

      HI Frnacesca;
      I think it must be the late 17th century you are referring to as heel heights gradually rose from the 1660s onwards and there were some towering heels from the 1690s, made as thin as possible from wood without the use of a metal core. I thought I had at least one pair illustrated in my book SHOES, but I don’t have a copy at hand. I don’t recall the heights off hand, but 3-4 inches is not unheard of, and I am sure there must be examples of late 17th – early 18th century shoes with tall, thin heels that are most likely French, and currently in collections like the Bayerische and Romans museums. You could try contacting Elizabeth Semmelhack at the Bata Shoe Museum. She makes heels a focus of her study and has written often on the topic. I think she might be able to provide more precise information for you.
      Hope that helps.
      Jonathan

  17. Jeffrey leeds says:

    Good morning

    I’ve just finished reading your article on the history of women’s shoes for the collector’s magazine. I wanted to ask you if you ever came across the name EDWARD A COHEN?

    He was the shoe buyer for Saks Fifth Avenue and eventually Bonwit-Teller from the mid 1920’s through the 1940’s and first introduced the designs of Porter Diliso as well as Fergammo to the United States and the first to match handbags with women’s shoes.

    At one time, I am told he was the most successful buyer in the entire country, and I’m in the process of searching for any mention within either Fashion or Women’s Shoe publications.

    Any help you might be able to give me would be greatly appreciated

    Cordially
    Jeffrey Leeds
    818 398 8001

    Jamgai2@yahoo.com

    • Jonathan says:

      HI Jeffrey;
      Sorry, but the name does not ring a bell. Buyers don’t get much press coverage!
      Jonathan

  18. JS says:

    Hi Jonathon! I’m currently doing research on a Marie Dressler piece purchased for a student exhibition. I’m starting to pick up on the fact that lots of people reach out to you for information, so any time or energy you have is greatly appreciated. Just wondering if you had a moment or two to shed more light on some of the information you found, or more specifically, how you were able to track down your info about Gottfried Co. Thank you so much!

    Sincerely,
    Julie

    js2337a@gmail.com

    • Jonathan says:

      Hi Julie;
      Other than the information I put into my blog entry (http://kickshawproductions.com/blog/?p=7285) I have no further information about the company. I am not sure where I got those dates of 1935-1947 for the production of the Marie Dressler line — I know I got that info from a freelance researcher but I lost the original info in a computer crash. The dates were based on real research, not just plucked from the air…
      Jonathan

  19. Susan Goodman says:

    Hello Jonathan,
    I’m working on the life story of a lovely 89 years old patient at my hospital. She came here from Brazil in 1964 and worked at a design house in Toronto at Bloor and Bay. She says the name is related to ‘sugar’, I believe a sugar manufacturer. I’m finding nothing in your articles and wonder if you have any idea where I might look.
    Thank you
    Susan

    • Jonathan says:

      Hi Susan;
      I can’t think what she is referring to, but I will let you know if anything comes to mind… I am intrigued!
      Jonathan

  20. Jenna Davis says:

    Hi Jonathan,

    I am writing a final paper at Brown University on the Chanel and Schiaparelli fashion houses during the interwar period, and how they handled footwear. How would they have differed in their designs? What did the shoes represent? I read you’re article in Collectors Weekly but wondered if you might have more specific information and details on the interwar trends for those two houses.

    Thanks for your help in advance!

    • Jonathan says:

      I don’t know if Chanel even sold footwear in her boutiques in the 1920s/30s. I know Schiaparelli did, but only in the late 1930s. She essentially commissioned designs, or bought existing designs from shoe designers including Perugia, a young Vivier, and a now largely forgotten Hungarian shoe designer by the name of Steven Arpad. I don’t have any information about the agreements or anything, these are just snippets of things I have picked up from things I have read over the years.
      Jonathan

  21. Noreen says:

    Hi Jonathon,
    I read an article you wrote on Gainsborough shoes and found a small catalog/brochure in my friend’s sisters estate. Thought it was rare and tried to sell it on ebay, but no bites. It has the name of the shoe and the price in addition to the options offered, and a picture of the owner. Do you think it is rare and any suggestions on how I could sell it?

  22. sir Jonathan where I can register as I love to receive e-mail by the time you upload a new post and read it. I love your blog.

    • Jonathan says:

      I am working on finding a way to have that. I was bombarded with fake followers who spammed me constantly, so I am trying to find an alternative way to sign up for this blog.

  23. Dear Jonathan, I am a fashion historian in France. Found you at last as have been collecting French records in publications for many years. I am updating a website at the moment headtotoefashionart.com and would be grateful if you could look at my biography pages for French Fashion Designers – l9th 20th century. Many of the photo’s that were printed in the video you have I have also in the Illustrations publications collected. Rare information has been found and added to the pages. Also many images will be added to a Fashion House slider for the new site. Hoping my searches in the future will be of great interest to your followers as well. Your comments will be much appreciated. Thank you Lavinia

    • Jonathan says:

      I have seen your site in the past and look forward to the additional information about early French fashion designers.

  24. Susan says:

    Hi Johnathan. What a find. Iam called to 1914-ish and 1930s fashions. (and furnishings). Is there a eay to subscribe so that I het email alerts whn you add new posts please? Have searched the site. Either way thank you.
    Susan. Melbourne, Australia

    • Jonathan says:

      Hi Susan;
      I don’t know how to add that feature – I had something before where people could sign up but was getting thousands of spams at the same time that took a lot of time to delete. I will have to ask someone who can figure out how to have a sign-up feature that doesn’t also allow spammers.

  25. Anna Wilkins says:

    Hi Mark, I work at the Guardian newspaper in the UK and would love to get press images for the 150 years of Canadian Fashions at the Fashion Museum, if you have any please can you send? Will be used in an online gallery for Visit Canada. If not, who is the best person to contact? Thanks, Anna

  26. Robin Duke says:

    I love this blog. I found it while I was searching for photos of Kitten Sweater Models on stages in The Better Living Building at the Canadian National Exhibition. Why can’t I find more.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *