Could You Wear 28.5cm Heels? Shoes On Focus At The V&A

By Silvia Baretta Last edited 34 months ago
Could You Wear 28.5cm Heels? Shoes On Focus At The V&A ★★★☆☆ 3
Caroline Groves, Parakeet Shoes. Photography by Dan Lowe
Caroline Groves, Parakeet Shoes. Photography by Dan Lowe
Freed of London founded in 1929, Red Ballet Shoes made for Victoria Page Moira, Shearer in the Red Shoes 1948. Silk, satin, braid and leather, England 1948, Northampton Museums and Art Gallery
Freed of London founded in 1929, Red Ballet Shoes made for Victoria Page Moira, Shearer in the Red Shoes 1948. Silk, satin, braid and leather, England 1948, Northampton Museums and Art Gallery
A beaded silk and leather evening shoe, created by Roger Vivier for Christian Dior. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
A beaded silk and leather evening shoe, created by Roger Vivier for Christian Dior. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
A Wedding toe-knob paduka, made from silver and gold over wood in India. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
A Wedding toe-knob paduka, made from silver and gold over wood in India. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Chopines, Punched kid leather over carved pine, from Venice, Italy © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Chopines, Punched kid leather over carved pine, from Venice, Italy © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Andreia Chaves’s Invisible Naked shoes fuse a study of optical illusion with 3D printing. Photo by Andrew Bradley. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Andreia Chaves’s Invisible Naked shoes fuse a study of optical illusion with 3D printing. Photo by Andrew Bradley. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Londonist Rating: ★★★☆☆

Back in December last year a lot of people got very excited about the new V&A exhibition Shoes: Pleasure and Pain. And now, just a few days ahead of the opening, we've had a first look at this fashionable display.

With more than 200 pair of shoes on show, the exhibition explores the role of footwear throughout the centuries and their power to transform someone's persona. As you step in, you work your way around a boudoir-like series of glass display cases — that remind us a bit of shop windows — each adorned with unique, flamboyant examples of shoes.

Shoes as a mean of transformation, seduction and status quo are the main themes explored on the underground level, where historical models mix with modern types. Footwear on display range from the minuscule Chinese binding shoes to the exaggerated heels of designers Christian Louboutin, Manolo Blahnik and Vivienne Westwood. The first floor showcases a series of exclusive and personal collections, as well as some more material about the process of shoe designing.

The highest heels on display reach 28.5cm and come from Egypt: apparently, they were fashionable in the Ottoman Empire during the 16th century. It's an interesting fact that almost all the objects on display are part of the (massive) V&A collection and have been surfaced from its archives for this special occasion.

Although the entire collection on display is absolutely fascinating, we noticed the lack of a deeper look at the process of shoe making: we would have liked to know more about what happens from the moment of choosing the right leather to the finished product in the shop.

For more extravagant shoes, visit the Alexander McQueen exhibition, on at the V&A Museum until 2 August.

Shoes: Pleasure and Pain runs from 13 June 2015-31 January 2016. Tickets are £12 (concessions available), booking online suggested. Londonist saw this exhibition on a complimentary press ticket.

Last Updated 10 June 2015