Origin Story: The Mule

Chilly weather is finally starting to give way to sunnier days, but it’s not quite time to pull out your pedicure-baring summer sandals. The shoe we’re reaching for again and again right now? The mule. Perfect for every occasion from a backyard party to a springtime wedding, this open-back flat strikes the ideal balance between the polished feel of a loafer and the casual ease of a slip-on. Favored by some of the most glamorous women throughout history, as well as the most beloved designers, a deeper look into the storied past of this iconic style makes it impossible not to fall head over heels in love.

WHEN IN ROME

The name “mule” dates all the way back to Ancient Rome, where the Latin phrase "mulleus calceus" was used to describe the shoes worn by Roman senators and magistrates. The root word would later evolve to refer generally to backless shoes and slippers, which became popular styles for the bedroom but were not actually intended to be worn in public.

THE FRENCH CONNECTION

That is, not until the beautiful yet daring Countess d’Olonne, a society figure in 17th century France, wore a red pair of mules that peeked out beneath her skirt and paved the way for the trend we love today. Over the following century, the wealthiest and most stylish women of the Royal Court were known to flaunt a pair of mules under their ballgowns (yes, that means Marie Antoinette!) The shoe was even immortalized in the iconic Rococo painting, The Swing, by Jean-Honoré Fragonard in which a young woman kicks off her pink-silk mule while gazing at an admirer.

ON THE SILVER SCREEN

Fast-forward to the 20th century, where Hollywood stars like Marilyn Monroe and Jayne Mansfield revamped the cult status of mules for women around the world. They wore them in films, on press tours, and in their personal lives, preferring either flat styles or ones with a slight heel over fussy stilettos. Soon the mule shoe came to represent a new era of glamour, creating a wave of influence for generations to come, with another major revival amongst the celebrity set in the ’90s.

DOWN THE RUNWAY

The adaptable nature of the mule has made it one of fashion’s favorite shoes to reinvent and rediscover season after season. Every major designer, from Gucci to Balenciaga to Manolo Blahnik, has created their own signature version that becomes iconic in its own right. Perhaps now more than ever, the mule has become an absolute essential to any wardrobe. And the best part? They go with absolutely anything.

THE TWO24 TAKE

It’s only fitting that we’d take this seminal style and put our very own spin on it. The mule is exactly the kind of shoe we needed in our collection – steeped in years of rich history with a distinctive edge. We drew influence from the streamlined shape and ultimate versatility that’s allowed to the mule to endure centuries, and looked into our own roots to mirror the ease of wear of the heritage sport mule. The Jubilee is our English-inspired version, adorned with polished hardware and a layered leather bit, while the Vienna beautifully blends our equestrian and Western roots with the addition of grommets. Both versions are hand-finished using the premium leathers for a luxurious look that feels tailor-made to you.

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