Obsessed with footwear? Step into the V&A

Book a space in your diary this upcoming summer and check out the Victoria and Albert Museum’s summer 2015 exhibition titled “Shoes: Pleasure and Pain”

© Estate of Helmut Newton / Maconochie Photography
© Estate of Helmut Newton / Maconochie Photography

For years women have faced persistent pressure to look desirable either to impress their friends or to enhance their own self-esteem. But how far do we go to achieve that ideal look? I remember when I went shopping one day and tried on my first pair of nude, strappy, 5 inch heels and how I felt formidably good in them. It wasn’t just the added height the heels gave me- which believe me, being only 5ft 2 made me feel more potent than ever- but it was the confidence boost, the poise and sense of power I got from wearing them.

© Victoria and Albert Museum, London
© Victoria and Albert Museum, London

While that feeling of self-assurance was strongly perceived in-store, when I finally wore the shoes for a night out it rapidly vanished and I began questioning my mental state at the time of purchase. The more time passed, the more I began to resemble a cross between a T-rex and the Hunchback of Notre Dame. I remember returning home from that night, throwing them in the corner and vowing never to wear heels again… of course that never happened. Nonetheless as time passed I began mastering the art of walking in heels (or my pain tolerance considerably heightened) and cannot imagine myself going out now without wearing a pair.

Photography by Dan Lowe
Photography by Dan Lowe

It wasn’t long until I had an entire collection of stilettos and now I consider them a wardrobe essential. If you too, go through this simultaneous elation of owning a pair of heels and the affliction that comes while wearing them then you will be able to relate to the V&A’s Shoes: Pleasure and Pain exhibition. The exhibition will display around 200 pairs of both historical and contemporary footwear and will examine the transformative power that footwear holds over women.  Shoes worn by icons and celebrities such as Marilyn Monroe and Sarah Jessica Parker will also be on show.

Vivienne Westwood, 1993 “Super Elevated Gillie”
Vivienne Westwood, 1993 “Super Elevated Gillie”

The exhibition is divided into two floors, the lower level will look at shoes as a life-changing accessory capable of creating status, identity and power. The upper level will show the practicality of shoe-making and will include short animations of how footwear is produced from start to finish. The exposition will also explore the technological advancements in footwear design and highlight the possibility of creating even higher heels (yes, this is a scary prospect!) and dramatic shapes in the near future.

NOVA by Zaha Hadid
NOVA by Zaha Hadid

The museum’s public display will be featured from the 13th of June 2015 up until the 31st of January 2016. While some people may find it bizarre that women go through so much pain over a pair of high heels, there really is no other option! Unless you discover a pair of heels that are comfy, fashionable and will keep you upright throughout the whole day then please, get in contact with me asap. The saying “beauty is pain” is embedded in our society for a reason, even one of the most notable footwear designer Christian Louboutin seems to agree after claiming that high heels are in actual fact “pleasure with pain”.

(c) Image Courtesty of United Nude
(c) Image Courtesty of United Nude

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