Pairs of outrageous shoes
A daily necessity and a fetishized dream object, shoes—extraordinary and eclectic, symbols of high social status and seductive—form the focus of the Victoria and Albert Museum’s ongoing exhibition titled ‘Shoes: Pleasure and Pain’.
The retrospective features over 200 pairs of shoes—for men and women—from across the world, spanning from ancient Egypt to pieces worn by classic and contemporary celebrities alike, such as Marilyn Monroe and Lady Gaga, and royalty including Queen Victoria and Princess Diana.
Through the years, shoes have been used as symbols to distinguish the privileged from the rest of the population using impractical shapes, materials and designs—from historical 17th Century creations for courts around Europe to the iconic Anglomania platforms by Vivienne Westwood in 1993.
Comparing and contrasting the past and present, the exhibition also focuses on the psychological effect that shoes have; the classic tale of Cinderella is narrated all over the world and how it’s a fine example of the way a pair of shoes can change one’s life. In this context, the showcase also explores the binaries of fantasy and reality by way of shoes that have appeared in folklores and fairytales and hold transformative powers.