Thursday, 14 January 2016

V&A Shoes: Pleasure and Pain

This week I headed over to one of London’s most intriguing museums, the V&A, to explore their highly talked-about Shoes: Pleasure and Pain exhibition. The collection features over 200 pairs of shoes recorded as early as the Egyptians in 1550 BC right up to modern day, each focusing on a different decade in history. As soon as you enter, you are transported into a whimsical world of all things shoes, and my eyes were immediately drawn to the Swarovski crystal glass slippers from the 2015 Cinderella movie, as they caught 
every glimmer of light truly looking magical.

As I made my way around the beautifully presented exhibition its title gained clarity; over time a heavy importance has been placed on shoes to allow people to showcase their status and wealth, but the pleasure of having such a desirable shoe often results in pain for the wearer due to its extravagance. The exhibition’s curator Helen Persson demonstrated this as she showcased the Chinese shoes for bound feet which tragically disabled the young girls who wore them, but was considered acceptable as it allowed these girls to show off their wealth. Persson also exhibited sky-high platform heels by Vivienne Westwood made famous by Niomi Campbell who took quite the tumble on the catwalk, as well as Marilyn Monroe’s staple white stilettos that were once rumoured to be of different heights. Not only was it stunning shoes of the rich and famous on display but shoes with great stories behind them and the women who bared them.
Other topics were also featured in the collection as designers like Yves Saint Laurent were showcased in the exhibit on the sex trade and fetishism, and the infamous Red Shoes were presented in fairy-tale and folklore. But not forgetting the men, various shoes from wellington boots to mules were on display, though it was a pair of platform heeled lace-up clubbing boots from the 90’s that caught my attention, a shoe you wouldn’t find a lot of men wearing today.
Open until January 2016, the collection provokes thought about why we wear the shoes we own as well as offering stunning pieces for our eyes to obsess over. I’d highly recommend this exhibition if you’re looking to see daring creations and historical wonders, but if that wont convince you then the Manolo Blahnik stiletto’s from Sex and The City should entice you just enough.

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