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Ballet flats or Dolly shoes are derived from a woman's soft ballet shoe, with a very thin heel or the appearance of no heel at all. The style sometimes features a ribbon-like binding around the low tops of the slipper and may have a slight gathering at the top-front of the vamp (toe box) and a tiny, decorative string tie. Ballet slippers can be adjusted and tightened to the wearer's foot by means of this string tie.
The essence of the ballet flat has existed since at least the 16th century, when men wore a similar shoe, then known as pompes. In medieval times ballet flats were popular with both men and women. They only went out of fashion in the 17th and 18th centuries when the high-heeled shoe came into fashion after Catherine de' Medici requested that her cobbler add 5 cm (2 inches) to her wedding shoes. Heels went out of fashion quickly after Marie Antoinette walked to the guillotine in a pair of heels. Functional shoes – sandals, boots, and flat shoes – prevailed in the 19th century. Ballet flats took off again when Audrey Hepburn wore them with cigarette pants in Funny Face in 1957.
In 1947, Rose Repetto hand stitched her first ballet flat for her son, famous dancer and choreographer, Roland Petit. Once actress Brigette Bardot donned a pair of Repetto's flats, variations of ballet flats became wildly popular and returned as a fashion trend. They are also often referred to as ballet pumps or ballet sneakers and designed for outdoor wear, using a variety of fabrics and usually with a rubber sole.
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