Shoes of all shapes, sizes and styles have gone on show at a new exhibition in London.
From the silk and leather footwear of Britain’s Queen Victoria, to towering platforms created by Vivienne Westwood, they are all on display at the Victoria and Albert Museum.
Visitors can also feast their eyes on the crystal-packed “Cinderella’s Shoe” from the latest instalment of the Disney tale.
Foot fashion can of course bring profound pleasure, but also persistent pain.
“Shoes have such a cultural importance throughout history and in nearly all cultures, because they do signify the status of the wearer, because the more uncomfortable and impractical shoe, the higher the status of the wearer, the more wealthy. Or, a really, a big desire to belong to that kind of exclusive group,” explained Helen Persson, exhibition curator.
The passion for shoes goes way back. A statue of Aphrodite at the exhibition wears thick-soled footwear, akin to modern-day platforms.
In all, there are more than 200 pairs of shoes on display to visitors, stretching back over several generations.
“Shoes: Pleasure and Pain” aims to explore the significance of footwear and why people have been so obsessed, for so long, with what they walk in.
“I think it’s hard as a fashion editor to predict the future of shoes, because at the time when there was Woman’s Lib (Liberation Movement) and all that everybody thought women would only wear shoes like men that were comfortable and they could run in, they could run away in;” said Suzy Menkes, Editor of Vogue International.
“But now we’re seeing shoes at extraordinary heights again, so it just seems to be something that you cannot keep down.”
“Shoes: Pleasure and Pain” is on at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum until next January.