Shoes: Pleasure and Pain

“High heels are pleasure with pain”- Christian Louboutin

The exhibition is spread over two floors, the first displays about 200 pairs of  shoes ranging from the to the David Lynch and Christian Loubiton fetish heels, designed in a way that forces the wearer to crawl on all fours revealing the sole of the foot as she does, to the Swarovski crystal Cinderella slipper, an amazing thing to behold, straight out of my childhood fairy -tales, and right round back to a rather amazing pair of men’s clubbing boots, which my dad seemed to take rather a shine to.

Apart from being beautiful and wondrous to behold the shoes also gave you some provoking thoughts on fashion history as each had a different story behind them. Like the terrifyingly tall heels that made Naomi Campbell fall over on the Vivienne Westwood runway, and the torturous lotus shoes from China, which left so many women deformed.

The more I walked around the exhibition and the more I read, the more I found myself realising that shoes really have always been much more than a foot protector, they are a status symbol, they are a confidence booster, a posture improver, shoes are silent statement makers.


A walk upstairs following some clever footstep projections shows you the many steps; there are to create a shoe. From the first sketch by the designer, to creating the last (a bit like a manikin for the shoes) then on to pattern cutting of the leather and the final assembly. A part which again reinforced that underlying message that a shoe is not just a shoe, there is a whole lot of attention to detail, hard work and love that goes into the final product.

(c)Victoria and Albert Museum, London

The exhibition culminated in a short film which featured Mark Hare from Mr Hare, Caroline Groves, Sandra Choi from Jimmy Choo, Manolo Blahnik, and the man who gave the exhibition its title Christian Louboutin. In this we heard about what inspired these gods of shoes to create the wonders that they did. I found it intriguing to hear the different approaches each had when looking for inspiration for their next shoe, be it Caroline Groves taking apart a shoe to see how it works, like you might a car, or Mark Hare who simply said that all he had to do was to keep going out and doing new things, and when he realised he didn’t have a shoe for that particular thing, then he would make one.w610

(Yes that is a wall of shoe boxes!)

I loved this exhibition, and recommend that you get down to the V&A  to try to go and see it before it ends in January, it’s educational, thought provoking and most defiantly will leave you with a serious amount of shoe lusting!

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