​shoes: pleasure and pain opens tomorrow at the v&a

The exhibition explores the transformative power of extreme footwear from around the globe.

by Charlotte Gush
12 June 2015, 9:25am

© estate of helmut newton / maconochie photography

From ancient Egyptian gold leaf sandals to Carrie Bradshaw's famous Manolos and precision-engineered Nike trainers, the V&A exhibition Shoes: Pleasure and Pain will track our obsession with footwear throughout the ages. Opening this Saturday 13 June at the V&A, the show presents shoes worn by Queen Victoria, Marilyn Monroe, Sarah Jessica Parker and Daphne Guinness, famous footwear from films, historic lotus shoes for bound feet, and designs by Manolo Blahnik, Christian Louboutin, Jimmy Choo and Prada.

Installation view of Shoes: Pleasure and Pain

Having a footwear fetish is nothing new according to curator Helen Persson. "Sexual attraction has always been associated with feet," she told i-D when the exhibition was announced last year. "It became particularly prominent in the 19th century when women started being portrayed in art as naked, but still wearing shoes," Persson explains, adding that "Women in art became seen as more available - more of a real woman and not just an unattainable goddess".

With over 200 pairs in the exhibition, Pleasure and Pain is an incredibly diverse presentation of footwear. The blue Vivienne Westwood platforms that Naomi Campbell famously took a tumble in on the runway in 1993 will rub heels with Indian men's shoes with exceptionally long toes and 17th century European "slap-sole" shoes.


pleasure and Pain