The Grecian Slipper

The Grecian Slipper


The Grecian Slipper


“They speak of a man who is content in his own skin, of one who fears no judgement and seeks to make no judgement of others. The male slipper is not just a statement of physical comfort, but of a comfort within oneself. They tell of a man who wishes to be no one but himself.”
- Julian Fellowes (as quoted in The Gentleman's Slipper by Fiona Dressman)

It was as a result of trade and travel with the East that the Western gentleman started to create a uniform for leisure and personal time as distinct as the codified work clothes he was expected to don in public. As cloths and goods flowed back from faraway places from the 17th Century, so did exoticised tales of traders and sheikhs, sultans and emperors, presenting themselves to peers and enemies alike in relaxed and opulent finery. In billowing silks of bright hues, their feet shod in fine slippers seemingly unsuitable for the rigours and trials of Northern European life.

And so the slipper, with its soft upper and thin leather sole became the symbol of privacy. Patiently awaiting a man's return from work into the comforts of domestic life, they spoke of ease and familiarity, their monograms and other detailing pertaining to a sense of individuality often lacking in the workaday uniformity required of his daytime attire. By the 19th Century, it was common for men to receive gifts of slippers, along with velvet robes and smoking hats, handmade by family members further strengthening the bond between his homelife and his wardrobe. But by the last quarter of that century, the English iconoclasts of The Aesthetic Movement led by Wilde & Pater would brazenly take this uniform of velvet, silk and slipper from the parlours and living rooms into public life, revelling in the implications of decadence and leisure this look entailed.

The Grecian was just one of the slipper shapes popular at the time. The name redolent of the Hellenic soldiers of antiquity, its two piece upper construction of heel and vamp quarters with an overlapping seam at the waist reminiscent of the simple sandals they wore into dusty battle. Sat next to the more elaborate and delicate details of the Albert Slipper and Opera Pump, they appeared shorn of extraneous detail. Here was a pared down piece of ingenious simplicity, handsome and practical in contrast to the velvet or patent showiness of the others.

By the 20th Century, Movie stars, gangsters, sportsmen, artists and aristos took to being photographed in their loungewear - the rewards of the good life and unconventionality. The Grecian suited this charmed existence, its elegant silhouette and clean lines perfectly simpatico with the contemporary design of Art Deco, and later, Mid-Century Modern.

This clarity of purpose gives the Grecian a timeless quality and great utility in a man's wardrobe. Working with the renowned English slipper makers Bowhill & Elliott, the Bryceland team's Grecian further adds to practicality by employing a tough leather upper, suede lining and Bowhill's unique outdoor suitable rubber 'Street slipper sole' designed for longevity while not losing the slim streamlined look and shape.

This balance of grace and function makes the Grecian the ideal companion for everything from the dressed up to the dressed down.

By Tony Sylvester