Summary

Pair of high-heeled, black suede shoes with peep toes and fastening strap extending from vamp to ankle. Made by Paragon; Rice O'Neill label. Rice O'Neill was an American label produced under licence - the licence was bought by Paragon circa 1957. The shoes are inscribed with the date 1939, but the conservation report suggests that they may be late 1950s, and the donor thinks they were probably incorrectly dated for an in-house display.

Paragon Shoes Pty Ltd was one of the most significant 20th century Australian shoe retailers, 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.

Physical Description

Pair of high-heeled sandal style with peep-toe. Cross-over vamp. Fastening strap extending from vamp to ankle. Uppers and heel of black suede.

Significance

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.

More Information

  • Collection Names

    Paragon Shoe Collection

  • Collecting Areas

    Working Life & Trades, Clothing & Textiles

  • Acquisition Information

    Donation from Mrs Diana Gaze, Mrs Diana Gaze, 26/10/2005

  • Date Made

    1957-1959
    Date on base of right shoe has 1939, but the date on conservation report states them to be late 1950s, and the rights for the shoes/label were apparently obtained by Alexander Nicholas in the early 1950s, according to the donor.

  • Manufacturer

    Paragon Shoes, Melbourne, Greater Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

  • Inscriptions

    Printed on inside of sole: "Paragon Present / Rice O'Niell" Handwritten on underside sole of right shoe: "1939"

  • Brand Names

    Rice O'Neill ()

  • Classification

    Clothing, Female, Footwear

  • Category

    History & Technology

  • Discipline

    Technology

  • Type of item

    Object

  • Overall Dimensions

    22.5 cm (Length), 17 cm (Width), 15 cm (Height)

  • References

    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.

  • Keywords

    Footwear Industry, Manufacturing, Making History - Paragon Shoes