From The New York Times:
The ancient Greeks depicted Aphrodite in elevator shoes. Centuries later, Venetian courtesans clopped around in towering chopines, while during the reign of Louis XIV, red heels were a mark of nobility. But it was after World War II that the stiletto took hold. Soldiers who spent years abroad dreaming of high-heeled pinups, one historian wrote, came home to wives whose wartime work required more sensible shoes. As women returned to domestic life, higher heels could, and did, become all the rage. From the 1950s’ froth of experimentation, the stiletto was born.