The kaleidoscopic escalation of the Beatle Boot

The Beatle boot – a variation of the Chelsea boot surged in popularity when Beatlemania circulated, thus becoming an iconic fixture of Swinging London.

At the start of 1959, Fulgencio Batista, the brutal dictator of Cuba was unseated from power. An armed revolt conducted by Fidel Castro, he assumed political power as Cuba’s prime minister. Meanwhile, in London there was a boot rooted in Cuban heritage that was emerging as a symbol of another revolution. Shod in boots with a Cuban-heel people were starting to take note of a young cockney photographer’s assistant called David Bailey. Recognizing an embryonic vanguard of a new zeitgeist, Vogue snapped him up at the beginning of the ‘60s.

Living with future icon of Swinging London, Jean Shrimpton, it was during this phase that he formed a close friendship with another soon-to-be demigod of the era Mick Jagger. In Warhol’s 1980 memoir, Popism: The Warhol Sixties co-authored by himself and long-time friend Pat Hackett he recounts the early style of Bailey and Jagger at a dinner party thrown by American art collector Jane Holzer. “They each had a distinctive way of dressing: Bailey all in black, and Jagger in light-coloured, unlined suits with very tight hip trousers and striped T-shirts, just regular Carnaby Street sport clothes, nothing expensive, but it was the way he put things together that was so great — this pair of shoes with that pair of pants that no one else would have thought to wear. And, of course, Bailey and Jagger were both wearing boots by Anello & Davide, the dance shoemaker in London.

Over in Hamburg – an unforgettable tour for a myriad of reasons, the Beatles remarked a Chelsea boot donned by a fellow English band. It coincided with the ill-fated Brian Epstein becoming their manager. He insisted the group adopt a neater clothing silhouette. To complement their streamlined outfits, typically involving slim-fitting suits, skinny black ties, and pointed or club collar shirts, the band visited Anello & Davide to commission four pairs of Chelsea boots – all with the addition of a Cuban-heel.


Freddie Anderson


February 2022


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