The Museum at FIT (MFIT) has unveiled an exhibition specially designed for shoe lovers.
Opening tomorrow, September 1 and running through December 31, the exhibition, titled “Shoes: Anatomy, Identity, Magic,” explores the physical, social and psychological relationship between humans and shoes.
Curated by Dr. Valerie Steele, Director and Chief Curator of MFIT, and Colleen Hill, Curator of Costumes and Props, the exhibit features more than 300 of the 5,000 pairs of shoes, boots, sandals and sneakers in the museum’s permanent collection. .
The exhibit begins in the introductory gallery, which features a vignette of baby shoes to illustrate how shoes are a part of people’s lives, even in the beginning. This is followed by a timeline of shoes from the 18th to the 21st century, as well as a viewing booth featuring clips from movies and TV shows exploring the symbolism of shoes in popular culture. Themes of anatomy, identity and magic are then explored in the main gallery, culminating in a replica shoe store displaying high fashion footwear.
The ‘anatomy’ theme emphasizes how few shoes are shaped like feet and how that plays into the way people move differently when wearing sneakers rather than stilettos. Other styles like open toe shoes and thigh high boots also draw attention to different parts of our anatomy.
In an exclusive presentation with FN, Steele points to a pair of Manolo Blahnik zebra-print ponyskin stiletto pumps from 1998 as an example of this notion. She notes that the shoe features an extreme “toe cleavage” opening, which Steele says subliminally mirrors that of a woman’s chest cleavage. “Even the slingback styles and cutout backs are sort of unconscious sexual innuendo,” Steele said.
Other sexy styles in the “anatomy” section include the black patent leather “Fetish Ballerine” pumps from 2014 by Christian Louboutin, and the red patent leather and silver metal stiletto pumps from Spring 1998 by Gucci by Tom Ford .
Next, the theme of “identity” aims to highlight how different styles and brands of shoes are meant to express important information about age, gender, social status, sexuality, and taste. The shoes are arranged in pairs for visitors to compare and contrast.
Under the “identity” theme, there is a section of designer shoes from Azzedine Alaïa, Jimmy Choo, Charles Jourdan, Nicholas Kirkwood, Charlotte Olympia, Iris van Herpen, Roger Vivier, Prada, Perugia and Pinet, which according to Steele was the first “commercially known” shoe brand.
Finally, the theme of “magic” emphasizes how we can subconsciously believe that the right pair of shoes will change our lives. Take for example Cinderella’s glass slippers that can capture a prince’s attention. This is painfully illustrated by a 1992 sculpture by artist Camille Norment that is literally a glass shoe. A pair of silver leather pumps with crystals and rhinestones from Jimmy Choo is a safer bet.
This section also highlights the influence of professional athletes on the sneaker market, as illustrated by a pair of Nike Air Jordans seen in the movie “Like Mike”, which saw Lil’ Bow Wow wearing these sneakers to magically improve. his basketball skills – just like Michael Jordan.
When asked what she wanted visitors to learn and take away from this exhibit, Steele said she wanted people to “buy” the exhibit and explore the shoes they would have worn and why at different times. periods of history. “Some people may have a dialogue about why they would never wear certain shoes, while others may want to break glass to have those shoes for themselves,” Steele said.
“But ultimately, this show is about the physical, social and psychological appeal of shoes, so we want people to think about their own shoes and why they choose to wear what they wear,” Steele added.