London’s Victoria & Albert Museum will soon unveil a new exhibit that spotlights extreme footwear. “Shoes: Pleasure and Pain” is set to open June 13 and will run through Jan. 31, 2016.
“Shoes are one of the most telling aspects of dress. Beautiful, sculptural objects, they are also powerful indicators of gender, status, identity, taste and even sexual preference. Our choice in shoes can help project an image of who we want to be,” said exhibition curator Helen Persson.
Shoes worn by or associated with celebrities, including Marilyn Monroe, Queen Victoria, Sarah Jessica Parker and Daphne Guinness, will be part of the exhibition. The work of 70 designers, from Manolo Blahnik and Jimmy Choo to Christian Louboutin and Roger Vivier, will be on display, while newer names, like Sophia Webster, will also be in the spotlight.
The exhibit will cover two floors. The the ground-floor gallery will showcase three themes: transformation, status and seduction. “Transformation” will present shoes that explore concepts of myth and legend, opening with different cultural interpretations of the Cinderella story from across the globe. “Status” will take a look at impractical shoes that have been worn to represent privileged and leisurely lifestyles — their design, shape and material can often make them unsuitable for walking. “Seduction” highlights shoes that express sexual empowerment or pleasure.
Other highlights include designer sketches, materials, embellishments and shoe lasts, such as the lasts created by H. & M. Rayne for Princess Diana, alongside “pullovers” from Roger Vivier for Christian Dior.
The Worshipful Company of Cordwainers, one of the oldest London livery companies, is a major supporter of the upcoming exhibit. The group will host the second National Footwear Student of the Year ceremony on June 18.
A media campaign will support the exhibition.
Footwear students from Britain’s three leading footwear-design schools — De Montfort University, University of Northampton and London College of Fashion/University of the Arts — have been invited to enter the Cordwainers’ Company National Footwear Student of the Year Competition 2015.
The prizes will be presented to the winners at the V&A on June 18.