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Shoes: Pleasure and Pain

“One Shoe Can Change Your Life”-Cinderella

Oh the Victoria and Albert Museum! This is quite possibly my favourite museum in London. I stopped by last Monday on England's observed Boxing Day holiday to view the current “Shoes: Pleasure and Pain” exhibit. Photography was not allowed, so I went the old fashioned route and jotted down notes from my viewing. I learned so much about shoes that I had no idea about before, not to mention saw many spectacular pairs. Did you know:

-The story of the slipper test a la Cinderella dates back to 1st century Egypt.

-Footwear was a form of status; impractical shoes showed that the wearer was of a class that had no need to perform manual labour.

-In the 18th century the shoe buckle was looked at as jewelry, and was transferred from one pair to another.

-Male shoes during the Tudor time, called Duckbill shoes, featured slashes in the design to show colorful hose beneath.

-Wide top boots, a la The Musketeers in the 1600’s, were designed so that the wearer could pull the top over their thighs for protection during riding.

Of the many, many pairs of shoes on display my favourites included (and thanks to this article for the photographs):

-The custom glass slipper worn by Lily James in the recent firm version of ‘Cinderella’

-Moira Shearer’s slippers from the film “The Red Shoes”

-The Anemone shoes by Christian Louboutin 

-Lady Gaga’s Alexander McQueen Angel Wing Booties 

I also LOVED the pair of LK Bennett Sledge heels that were on display with reference to how iconic they have become thanks to the Duchess of Cambridge.

The exhibit itself is laid out beautifully with rich deep purple curtains. Iconic TV and film scenes revolving around shoes play on multiple screens.

During my visit I paused to admire a pair of mules in the fashion of those worn in ‘The Swing’ painting by Jean-Honore Fragonard. The painting is housed at The Wallace Collection and is a favourite piece of mine (not to mention another favourite London museum!). Two little girls ran up in front of me to look and one exclaimed, “Look! It’s the painting that is in ‘Frozen’!” As someone who hasn’t seen ‘Frozen’ (I know) I made a note to fact check later on. Sure enough, the painting IS referenced in ‘Frozen’!  Props to that kid for making the connection, and another reason I do need to see the movie.

Also freatured was a detailed look at how shoes are made, including the craft behind creating a bespoke shoe. A “feet book” of famous clients was on display, showing notes on Sir Lawerence Oliver.

“Shoes: Pleasure and Pain” is on at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London through the 31 January 2016. 

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