11 June - 9 October
Another major fashion coup for the Museum, the only UK venue outside London, was to stage this exhibition before touring internationally to the USA and China.
Organised by the Victoria and Albert Museum, London it displayed more than 200 pairs of historic and contemporary men’s and women’s shoes by 70 named designers, including Christian Louboutin, Manolo Blahnik, Jimmy Choo, Christian Dior and Prada, many from the V&A’s unrivalled collection.
Exploring the agony and the ecstasy of footwear throughout 2,000 years of history, it also examined the elation and passion they can arouse in the wearer.
The exhibition is divided into five specific themes:
- Transformation – presented shoes that are the things of myth and legend
- Status – revealed how impractical shoes have been worn to represent privileged and leisurely lifestyles
- Seduction – shoes representing an expression of sexual empowerment or a passive source of pleasure
- Creation - how they’re constructed, the beautiful craftsmanship, supply and demand
- Obsession - the joy and fascination of collecting, owning and wearing
While the show featured shoes worn by or associated with famous icons including David Beckham, Sarah Jessica Parker, The Honorable Daphne Guinness, Queen Victoria and Kylie Minogue, it also explored extreme footwear such as tiny 19th Century lotus shoes made for the Chinese tradition of foot binding.
Our Fashion Curators developed one of the exhibition themes - Obsession - to add a unique Northern and contemporary element. We were thrilled to have added to the touring show, a whole wall of sneakers from two private collections belonging to Ross Macwaters and Neil Pestell. The sneaker wall featured about 30 pairs of adidas trainers from the 1960s to the present day.
The shoes were exhibited thematically, not chronologically, each section a visual cornucopia of different shapes, styles, materials and colours. They were presented as very beautiful objects, many telling fascinating stories. You can read about the installation of the exhibition in our blog 'Step Inside the Fashion & Textiles Gallery: Daily Updates on the Installation of Shoes: Pleasure & Pain.'
We'd love to hear your experiences of the Shoes: Pleasure and Pain exhibition when you visit. Please share your photos and thoughts on social media using #VAMShoes or complete a visitor survey to win a £50 voucher.
You can also take part in a competition to win a prize for the best photo of your footwear on the red carpet, tagged on social media with #VAMShoes #shoesoftheday and #todayskicks We'll share the best ones on the Museum's channels too!