London looks at shoes: where pleasure meets pain

where pleasure meets pain
where pleasure meets pain

From Cinderella’s glass slipper to the sky-high purple platforms that caused supermodel Naomi Campbell to stumble on the catwalk, more than 250 pairs of shoes went on display on Wednesday (June 10) at a London exhibition detailing both the pleasure and pain of footwear.

The V&A museum is showcasing shoes historic and contemporary in a collection it says spans the globe and over 2,000 years from an ancient Egyptian sandal decorated in gold leaf to futuristic looking footwear created with 3D printing.


“Shoes: Pleasure and Pain” also puts on display heels and flats worn by celebrities such as Marilyn Monroe, Lady Gaga as well as Queen Victoria and the ballet slippers worn by Moira Shearer in the 1948 film “The Red Shoes”.

“Shoes have such a cultural importance throughout history and in nearly all cultures because they do signify the status of the wearer,” exhibition curator Helen Persson said.

where pleasure meets pain
where pleasure meets pain

“The more uncomfortable and impractical shoe, the higher the status of the wearer, the more wealthy or a really, a big desire to belong to that sort of exclusive group.”

The exhibit explores three themes — transformation, or the mythical aspect of shoes in folklore; status which looks at how impractical shoes are worn to represent a privileged lifestyle and seduction which explores the concept of footwear as a representation of sexual empowerment or pleasure.

Creations by celebrity-favourite designers Jimmy Choo, Manolo Blahnik and Christian Louboutin are in the exhibition as are Vivienne Westwood’s “Super Elevated Gillie” tie-up heels which Campbell fell off at a fashion show in 1993.

“Shoes: Pleasure and Pain”, which features footwear for both women and men, opens on June 13 and runs until January. (REUTERS)

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London looks at shoes: where pleasure meets pain
Story By Lisa Kamau
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