Whether a fashion statement, a fetish object, an instrument of power or an outlet of artistic expression, throughout the ages the high-heeled shoe has gone through many shifts in style and symbolism.
Organisers of the exhibition say the aim is to show the rich history of the high heel and what it tells us about society.
“What I would love is for people to come away with the idea that something like high heels, which in some ways we take for granted as just part of the regular costume of some people, is that they are a very interesting lens, actually, through which to look at history,” says Lisa Small, curator at the Brooklyn Museum.
“They say a lot about gender, about class, even about trade and exchange throughout history. So they’re really wonderful objects about material culture, as well as some of them being beautiful eye candy.”
Among the more than 160 pairs on display, the earliest dates back to the mid-16th century: high platforms called “chopines” made out of wood or cork, worn by noblewomen and courtesans in Renaissance Venice.
But elevated footwear can be traced as far back as the 1st century BC, as can be seen in a picture of a statue of the Goddess Aphrodite teetering on high platform sandals.
‘Killer Heels: The Art of the High-Heeled Shoe’ runs at the Brooklyn Museum in New York City until February.