Art Exhibition English

“Give a Girl the Right Shoes, and She Can Conquer the World.”

–          Marilyn Monroe*

Shoes! Glorious Shoes! (If I may be as bold as to twist Oliver’s words a little…) As nearly every teenage girl and woman will tell you, shoes are fantastically important. Mainly, because they’re just fantastic. But think about it, the love of a good or pretty shoe (the best combine beauty and comfort) is reflected throughout history. For the purposes of this blog, history includes fairytales…

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See the joy on those women’s faces? Look guys, the man on the left: he’s happy as Larry! Maybe he is Larry…The point is, there is more joy in giving than receiving. Take note, and apply to shoe-giving.

Where would Cinderella be without her glass slipper? Where would Puss be without his boots? Hermes would have been a great deal less effective as a messenger god without his winged sandals. And the Old woman who lived in a shoe? Well, she would be out on the streets for certain!

But as well as providing fodder for fairytales and mythology, shoes also help us to track sociological changes with the help of evolving fashions through the centuries.

For example, did you know that the first recorded images of shoes are 15,000 years old? These are in the form of Spanish cave paintings, and it can easily be imagined that fashions have changed somewhat along the way. The materials from which shoes were made indicated the wealth and perhaps lifestyle of the owner; rawhide was the cheapest and most common a few thousand years ago, providing a sturdy and protective shoe. Leather was later used, creating a more malleable shoe, but one which was still plain. The use of silk for shoes indicated wealth and penchant for style – this was for shoes which were made to be admired, not practical.

Shoe styles through the centuries and millennia have changed, it is true. However, we clutch on to the past through our current shoe fashions. You must remember the Roman gladiator-sandal that was (is?) so in vogue only a couple of summers ago. Then, we revisited the love of the platform as so openly loved by ABBA in the seventies. As for the Ugg boot, who knew that Australian farmer shoes would become the big thing? But seriously, enough is enough, let’s move on please.

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Italian Renaissance Chopine
Venice
16th century

But what types of shoes would we LIKE to see making a comeback? There are conflicting opinions on moonboots it is true. Personally, I am in the NO camp. Perhaps Galoshes? If Lady Gaga were to wear them, I am sure they would catch on in a heartbeat. Or, perhaps if Victoria Beckham were to design a contemporary ‘Mary Jane’? I bet that’d catch on pretty fast too. But what I’d really like to see making its way back onto the High Street are Italian Renaissance (Chopine) shoes. Or, as I like to call them, Horse-hoof shoes. After all, who hasn’t wanted to legitimately clomp down the street, whilst looking fabulous? Move over Mr Tumnus!

* Marilyn wasn’t a fan of left shoes.

For an iron-clad excuse to drool over shoes (c’mon guys, not literally!) head over to The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Decide for yourselves which shoe style YOU want to see become popular again. The permanent exhibition Shoes in The Costume Institute will entice you again and again (if you’re anything like me).However, if that isn’t enough to tempt you outdoors on a chilly winter’s day, cosy up to a copy of Klaus Carl’s Shoes.

-Fiona Torsch

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