Pair of 1969, Paragon Parisienne, 'Daisy' designed shoes, in aqua and purple leather. These shoes were worn by the donor. They were originally housed in soe box HT 11678.

The shoes are a copy of a pair purchased by the donor in Florence in 1969, in tan with an orange daisy. She took them to the Paragon factory, where staff disparaged the new flat-heeled style (by then popular in Europe). However, Paragon was soon itself making flat (or lower-heeled) shoes.

The shoes were worn with a dress from the Jot boutique. The donor gave the dress to her granddaughter Claire.

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. 'Parisienne' was aimed at the younger buyer. 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.

Physical Description

Pair of slip-on shoes, two-toned in aqua and purple leather, with a square-toe. Detail on sole bordering upper. Decoration of flower motif on front of shoe with orange button to make centrepiece of flower. Orange stitching used as contrast on show. Slightly raised heel. Leather sole and upper.


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 Purchased

    Italy, 1969

  • Manufacturer

    Paragon Shoes, Melbourne, Greater Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
    Not confirmed if these were purchased as part of market research by Paragon or were sold as part of the Paragon range.

  • Inscriptions

    Printed on inside of sole in gold: "BIRKLA / PARAGON / PARISIENNE"

  • Classification

    Clothing, Female, Footwear

  • Category

    History & Technology

  • Discipline


  • Type of item


  • Overall Dimensions

    25.8 cm (Length), 8.8 cm (Width), 10.5 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