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Preview… Shoes: Pleasure and Pain at the V&A

As far as accessories go, we’re more about handbags than footwear over at LGHQ, but this didn’t stop us heading over to the Victoria & Albert Museum to take a peek at their amazing new exhibition ‘Shoes: Pleasure and Pain’, which reportedly took an incredible five years to create.

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Essentially, the exhibition was like walking into the greatest (and strangest) shoe closet ever, as we were taken on a journey addressing the history of the shoe from Egyptian times until the present day, with the narrative oscillating between the themes of transformation, status and seduction. The lighting in the lower level of the exhibition was intimate and snug, much the fit of a great shoe.

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Photo: The Swarovski Cinderella slipper and the Red Shoes ballet pumps.

Footwear from myths and legends was the essence of the ‘transformation’ theme, with Lily James’ Swarovski glass slipper – created especially for the Branagh directed version of the film – placed next to the red shoes from the 1948 film of the same name, and also David Beckham’s legendary football boots. This segment touched upon the fact that shoes can magically transform the life of their wearers, whether for the better or worse.

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Photo: Christian Louboutin and David Lynch’s ‘fetish’ shoes, right.

The theme of ‘seduction’ represented an expression of sexual empowerment through shoes. A collaboration between Christian Louboutin and David Lynch was a popular feature here; the pair created ballet pump-like shoes possessing an ‘impossible heel’.

The subject of ‘status’ within the exhibition explored how impractical shoes were worn to represent privileged and leisurely lifestyles, as well as how shoes affected a person’s walk – cue the infamous Vivienne Westwood blue mock-croc shoes worn by Naomi Campbell.

The Westwood shoes were just one pair of dozens of ‘famous’ pairs of footwear to feature, which also included Marilyn Monroe’s court shoes and Kylie Minogue’s Prada heels inspired by Fifties cars.

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Photo: Installation view of Shoes Pleasure and Pain, credit Victoria and Albert Museum London

One of the best things about the exhibition was the mix of modern fashion items with historical items; Lady Gaga’s Alexander McQueen shoes sat next to old fashioned Moccasins, while a number of cabinets featured Medieval leather sandals, or shoes fit for a Sultan practically encrusted in diamonds, sapphires and rubies. It was interesting to see how desire and preference for certain shoes styles had evolved.

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Photo: Elsa Schiaparelli’s shoes

We also particularly enjoyed the focus on a pair of Elsa Schiaparelli shoes, which were designed by Andre Perugia. The surrealist artist has always been a great source of inspiration for Lulu Guinness.

At £12 the tickets are a steal and will give you some excellent outfit inspiration. ‘Shoes: Pleasure and Pain’ opens on 13 June 2015 and runs until 31 January 2016.

http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/exhibitions/shoes-pleasure-and-pain/

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