The higher, the better. That’s the thinking behind “Killer Heels: The Art of the High Heel,” which arrives at the Brooklyn Museum this September with some of the most outrageous, architectural and ironic designs.
For the new exhibition, styles range from Christian Louboutin’s Printz platform pumps and Salvatore Ferragamo’s rainbow platforms to Iris van Herpen’s Beyond Wilderness 3-D shoes, to name a few. Alongside the shoes are six specially commissioned films by renowned artists who weigh in on the art and social implications of towering heels.
Here, Spy gets the scoop from curator Lisa Small.
What prompted the idea for the shoe exhibit?
“Heels are such evocative objects in the world of fashion and popular culture, so we thought it would be a great focal point. It’s also really interesting because every season there is this discourse about the ‘craziest shoe I’ve ever seen,’ and some of the craziest shoes actually come from Renaissance Italy or the Chinese in the 17th century.”
What is it about the power of heels that you wanted to explore?
“The elevated platform shoe — not just the high heel or stiletto — has always been about power and status. The high-heeled shoe came to Western fashion as a men’s power shoe for royalty — just think about the famous portrait of Louis XIV in the red high heels. As heels became a female-gendered object of clothing, they became among the most polarizing objects of fashion that are still worn. We don’t wear corsets. We don’t wear bustles or crinolines, but we wear heels.”
Fast forward to the future: Where are we headed with high heels?
“[We are in] a cycle where flats and kitten heels are ‘back,’ but the high heel isn’t going away. So many designers see it as a way to work out all kinds of things, from silhouette to embellishment and height. The possibilities are endless.”
It’s probably no surprise that Victoria Beckham loves her pumps. “I chose to wear high court shoes as they work so well with a classic dress,” she said of her recent appearances at On Pedder in Singapore and Jakarta, Indonesia. “I loved how most of the customers brought multiple bags and wanted me to sign them — inside and out.” Up next, Beckham will head back to the U.S. to begin planning her spring ’15 runway show. So what shoes will she travel with? “I’m not obsessing over one particular brand, but I love Manolo Blahnik,” she said. “I collaborate with him on my show shoes and find he has an incredibly delicate hand when designing shoes.”
Timberland celebrated a milestone this month when the company notched its millionth volunteer hour served. The firm’s Path of Service program, which lets staff use as many as 40 paid hours each year on community service projects, debuted in 1992. “This was really important to us,” said Atlanta McIlwraith, senior manager of community engagement for Timberland. “It’s not only important to our communities but also really good for employees and our business.” The Stratham, N.H.-based firm sponsors two major global service days for workers, on Earth Day and the company’s September “Serv-a-palooza” day, but other projects have included working with the Red Cross after Hurricane Katrina, building accessible gardens for children with cerebral palsy at a school in Hungary, clearing trails and, of course, planting many, many trees. McIlwraith said Timberland is marking the milestone by looking ahead. “We’re hopeful the next million hours won’t take so long,” she quipped.
Alejandro the Great
Florida meets the Empire State. “My whole family is here from Miami. It’s a Cuban invasion in New York tonight,” said Alejandro Ingelmo at the El Museo del Barrio gala, where he was honored with the Artistic Achievement Award. “It means a lot to me. I come from a Latin background and I’m very proud of that,” he said of the honor, which was given for the first time to a footwear designer. The event, at Cipriani Midtown, welcomed New York’s Latino cognoscenti, including Miss Universe Gabriela Isler and musician Cucu Diamantes. Also on hand was Teen Vogue’s Amy Astley, who presented the award to Ingelmo. “What I design, it all comes from where I’m from,” said the designer, who admitted he was slightly nervous to be singled out on such a scale. And his designs got plenty of attention, too, as many guests donned Ingelmo’s signature stilettos for the night.
Power couple Vince and Louise Camuto were honored at the Ronald McDonald House’s 22nd annual gala last week. “I was first introduced to the house by Tina Lundgren, [wife of Macy’s chief Terry Lundgren], and I really wanted to be involved,” said Louise Camuto, who has been a board member for four years. “Every Mother’s Day, we host an event for the kids and I get to meet them. It’s fun and they are all so cute.”