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Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Finding Art in Women's Heels

bound lotus feet

Sexy heels are generally thought of as women’s heels. Did you now that high heeled shoes originated with men at the French royal court? The Killer Heels: The Art of the High Heeled Shoe exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum is a treasure trove of the most fabulous shoes by your favorite designers, but also the historical roots that influenced them.

The sculpted heel shape known as the “Louis” heel is a reference to King Louis XV. High heeled shoes were worn by the men of the aristocracy to elevate them above the filth in the streets and indicate status. Women started adopting the style, but the heels were sculpted in shape and curved to differentiate their shoes from the men. This advancement paved the way for modern producers from John Fluevog to Nicholas Kirkwood today.
brooklyn killer heels

You might think that the platform shoe was born in the 1970s. Actually, severely elevated platform shoes date back two thousand years with footwear like the Japanese Geta shoe and Manchu Chopine shoes leading up to the Italian renditions of the 15th century. The exhibit has beautiful examples of all of these alongside contemporary styles from today’s popular designers, like the jeweled platforms from Prada.

The fetish aspect of high heeled shoes is examined, like the bound lotus feet from China to dominatrix looks of this century.  The red soles of Christian Louboutin stilettos to the sculpted arched heel-less boots of Noritaka Tatehana show the relationship between forbidden fantasy and high fashion.

 Various collaborations with the brand United Nude and other studios showed the relationship between architecture and shoe design. There were flat pack shoes and 3D printed pieces. One of the most interesting shoes was a pair inspired by the Fukushima nuclear disaster by artist Sputniko and Masaya Kushino. These were embellished with flowers that absorb radiation and designed to seed the ground when the wearer walked.
shoe planting seeds

High heeled shoes may have started as an elitist fashion statement. The variety of design represented at this exhibit has proven they can be wearable art. With artists making shoes that heal the after tragedy, shoes have been elevated to an accessory that improves the world. Now what have your stilettos done lately?

Killer Heels: The Art of the High Heeled Shoe runs at the Brooklyn Museum until February 15, 2015.

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