We see it everywhere. Men appreciate them. Women adore them. They make regular appearances in the office, meetings, restaurants, parties, dance floors, grocery stores, TV shows, movie scenes and even street corners. High heels have a signature role in mainstream society and are quite the fashion statement in pop culture. But, where did it come from? How did it get here? Why is it so popular? What does it represent? And, where is it going? A new documentary entitled, High On Heels, sets out to answer these questions and more. The film now streaming on Amazon Prime Video delves deep into all things high heels by highlighting it’s daily impact on women’s livelihood.
High On Heels was directed by Adelin Gasana, a documentary filmmaker based in Atlanta, Georgia. He teamed up with producer Lola Kayode on this insightful, well-balanced piece. It took the team about 15 months to complete this fashion film from concept to completion. Knowing how ambitious it was to pursue such a big topic on the subtle accessory that is the high heel shoe, Adelin Gasana talks about his creative approach. “We wanted to take on this subject matter from a fly-on-the-wall perspective, ” Gasana recalls. “From that vantage point I directed the film on the outside looking in. The women featured open up on their passion, experience, outlook, love, and hate for high heels.”
From the classy pump, comfortable wedge, sexy stiletto, and exotic platform high heels are an experience for women. They symbolize women’s highest attributes in society worth aspiring to–professionalism, style, maturity, empowerment, confidence, beauty, sexiness and sophistication. They are also a source of women’s personal experience with discomfort and pain. High On Heels paints the portrait of high heels as character in Western society by connecting its historical evolution with the nuance of women’s lifestyle. For young girls heels begins as a rite of passage into womanhood and maturation. As they evolve into young adulthood heels become a loss of innocence in the move toward what is beautiful and what is sexy. As a conversational piece, the film provides an insightful look and perspective on the role high-heeled shoes have on women’s everyday lives. Designers and entrepreneurs talk about the business side of high heel products bought and sold in today’s diversified marketplace. Models and dancers working in their industry chime in on the role heels play in their careers. Influencers and historians provide input on the multidimensional change heels continue to make in today’s culture. Doctors add forewarnings on long-term use on women’s health with solid medical reporting.
So, what inspired two independent filmmakers to convey a mainstream topic in a documentary film portrait? Adelin Gasana remembers an earlier conversation he had with Lola Kayode on her back pain associated with high heels and why she regularly sees a chiropractor. It was in those telling conversations that Gasana thought such a documentary would make for an interesting project worth bringing to life. From there their conversations extended to a diverse range of women working in many different industries from entertainment, retail, health, and academia.
Nothing is left out in this new documentary. It doesn’t take a side on whether heels are a mark of sexism which feminists have been debating for years. Nor does the film discourage young women in wearing heels due to potential health ailments that may come. The film dares not to favor one heel style or heel type over the other. Instead High On Heels delivers an undiluted look on heeled shoes as a cultural mark in our diverse world as well as a fashion statement that means something more than just a shoe for women. You as the viewer do walk away hearing a frank, honest discussion of the good, the bad, and the ugly. A historian/curator opines in the documentary, “High heels can never be neutral.” But, it’s you, the viewer, who decides what to take in and what to think about not the other way around.