One pair of shoes can change your life!! Don’t believe it? Just ask at Cinderella!! If it wasn’t for that glass slipper the Prince would never have found her and she would never have lived happily ever after 😂. Ok so it’s a slightly unrealistic example but the V&A museum in London have based a whole exhibit on the premise of life changing/defining shoes and its fabulous. The “Shoes: Pleasure & Pain” exhibition, which I visited over the weekend, is sponsored by Clarks (I love them) and explored our love of shoes, charted the evolution of the shoe and showcased some of the most iconic and imaginative shoes throughout history. Once I got over the fact that the shoes were not displayed in chronological order 😮 -Jimmy Choo’s next to 19h century shoes made for Queen Victoria- for a shoe lover like me it was a real treat. There was everything you would expect to see from popular culture from the skyscraping purple Vivienne Westwood platforms that caused Naomi Campbell to take a tumble in 1993 to the nude LK Bennett pumps favoured by the
Duchess of Cornwall along with the weird and wacky from the most creative high fashion minds (monkey hair boots anyone). I even got an insight into how the shoes are made and designed. But the really interesting part for me was the history. Being able to see a pair of 2000 year old shoes or learning about how platform shoes were created to elevate women for various reasons from such as protecting the affluent lady’s dress from the mud or allowing men to get a better view of a prostitutes “attributes”. On display in the fetish section were a pair of very intereting Christian Louboutin pumps that caught my attention. The squared toe nude pump had an impossibly angled heel which meant that the wearer had to crawl instead of walk. They also sported a black mesh sole which exposed the bottom of the wearer’s foot. Sound insane ??- It was but I couldn’t help but admire the creativity.
I did notice a bit of a running theme in that many of the shoes (fetish or not) were designed to restrict the movement of the women who wore them. In their construction they encouraged or even forced the wearer to take tiny, dainty steps, often elevated, so that they could be admired by men. One of the most dramatic examples of this were the Chinese lotus shoes made for bound feet. Foot binding was a practice carried out in China where the toes were tucked under (i.e. broken and deformed) and the foot was bound to prevent growth. These highly restrictive shoes forced women to walk slowly (and painfully) and the smaller the foot, the more restricted the movement and the more desired (i.e. likely to get a husband) the woman 😮. The shoes were comically tiny, like little doll shoes and I really struggled to get my head around the fact that adult women used to wear them. Something about it brought out the feminist in me. Made me stride around in my size 6 knee high riding boots a little harder – you wont restrict my movements!! 😁
We weren’t allowed to take pictures but I managed to get a few sneaky ones in so make sure you check out them out below. Another great day at the V&A. The exhibition runs until 31st January so if you’re able to check it out make sure you do.
Until next time!