From the Telegraph:
Impractically high heels, known as chopines, were worn by upper-class women in Italy and Spain during the late Renaissance era.
The higher the heel, the longer - and therefore more expensive - the dress needed to cover them, and the more servants needed to support the wearer.
Men briefly embraced heels in the 17th century, but the fashion did not last long, she added. "Except for horseback riding and a blip in the 1970s, heels have been a woman's accessory."