Right shoe, platform style with sling back, 1970s, labelled 'Ardo'. Either made or purchased by Paragon as a sample, its sole is incomplete.
Paragon Shoes Pty Ltd became one of the most significant 20th century Australian shoe manufacturers, and at one time was the largest manufacturer of high quality of women's shoes in Australia. Its factory was located in Melbourne, and its shoes were sold throughout Australia and New Zealand. Paragon shoes were manufactured in a factory in Argyle St, Fitzroy, in the 1920s, one of the largest single-storied factories in Australia. Manufacturing later moved to Stanley St, Collingwood. Some shoes were also made in other factories for Paragon, and some were apparently designed overseas. Up to 100 people worked in the Stanley St factory, with as many as three generations working with the company at the one time.
As fashions changed and new market sectors were pursued, Paragon created new labels for its products. Pierre Fontaine was established in the early 1960s as a cheaper shoe; Parisienne was aimed at the younger buyer, and Belle Chaussure was aimed at a sophisticated buyer. Royal Paragon was made with luxury materials, such as brocades, crocodile or lizard skin. Innovare was made exclusively for Myer. Overseas trips were taken to undertaken 'fashion espionage' - such as photos of shop windows in Italy. The donor instigated the practice of buying retail samples and bringing them back to Melbourne in the late 1960s-early 1970s.
Sling-back platform with uppers of green and orange leather in several scalloped and branded panels. Fastens with strap at side. Sole incomplete - cork lining visible.
The Paragon Shoe Collection comprises over 90 objects, including pairs of shoes and single shoes, point-of-sale materials and promotional materials such as business cards and an umbrella bearing the company name. The Collection documents the business and products of Paragon Shoes Pty Ltd, one of the most significant 20th century Australian shoe retailers, and at one time the largest manufacturer of high quality of women’s shoes in Australia. Its factory was located in Melbourne, and its shoes were sold throughout Australia and New Zealand.
The collection was largely donated by a member of the Davison family, which ran the Paragon business for most of the 20th century. It documents the changing designs of Australian women's footwear, from the 1910s to the 1980s. It illustrates the development of new shoe styles, from sample shoes bought overseas to shoes that went into production and were worn by Australian women. The collection is complemented by an archive held at the State Library of Victoria, including company records, shoe design sketch books and further point-of-sale material.
Donation from Mrs Diana Gaze, Mrs Diana Gaze, 26/10/2005
Type of item
21 cm (Length), 8 cm (Width), 17 cm (Height)
214 mm (Length), 81 mm (Width), 160 mm (Height)
Measurement From Conservation.
Howard, G., 2004. Lex Davison: Larger Than Life'. Turton & Armstrong, Sydney. Copies of several newspaper articles about Paragon from the early 1920s were included with the donation. The State Library of Victoria holds an archive relating to the Paragon business, containing receipt books, account books, advertising, clippings, sample book, sketches, photographs and a poster - MS 13570. The content dates range circa 1928-1988. An additional archive, PA 01/05, ranges 1940s-1980s.