Sunday, 19 July 2015
Pain and Pleasure
As Kathryn Hughes says in her review in the Guardian: "...many of the shoes in this exhibition manage to be both legitimate and wayward, serious and slutty at the same time."
From ancient Egyptian stilt-shoes through Baroque masterpieces of extreme ornamentation and "Arabian Nights-style" foot-long pointy-toes, to Victorian buttoned "streetwalker" boots, Disco platforms, Manolo Blahnik/Christian Louboutin stilettos and modern cantilevered monstrosities, the exhibition Shoes: Pleasure and Pain that we went to see at the V&A yesterday had them all. Shoes worn by Marilyn Monroe, GaGa, Daphne Guinness, Naomi Campbell, Kylie and Imelda Marcos, shoes for royalty and shoes from Hollywood movies (including Moira Shearer's doomed ballet pumps from The Red Shoes, of course) - footwear in its endless variety was here.
This is an exhibition about obsession more than practicality, of course, and some of the items on display were remarkably beautiful and desirable, as one might expect. Others, such as the tiny Chinese "bound-feet" slippers, were simply horrifying. Displays of components (such as wildly beautiful heels), designs and private collections amassed over decades were as revealing as the shoes themselves.
And, judging by the crowds of people attending, pointing and gasping at the items on display - men as much as women - the obsession is still very much alive...
Shoes: Pleasure and Pain is on at the Victora & Albert Museum until 31st January 2016.