jing zhang re­calls that it wasn’t so long ago that men wore heels and women wore flats

Prestige Hong Kong - - MUST SEE -

It was a 1599 Per­sian del­e­ga­tion to Europe – the men sport­ing the high-heeled rid­ing boots that Cen­tral Asian archers used to sta­bilise them­selves in the sad­dle as they snapped their bows – that led to the Euro­pean rage for all things Per­sian, and it wasn’t long be­fore your 17th-cen­tury cock­alo­rum was prov­ing his right to a life of lux­ury by dis­port­ing in a pair of ut­terly im­prac­ti­cal high heels. The Sun King Louis XIV was per­haps the most en­thu­si­as­tic con­vert to the heel, but then he was just 1.63 me­tres tall in his stock­ings. Women fol­lowed suit, but with the En­light­en­ment came the with­drawal of men from the ranks of the heeled, while the fetishi­sa­tion of women’s footwear pro­ceeded apace. From “red bot­toms” to the spike heel or the Ja­panese geta, footwear across the ages has man­aged to in­spire a spe­cial kind of fetishism in fash­ion. Now at Pa­cific Place, the Lon­don Vic­to­ria & Al­bert’s ex­hi­bi­tion Shoes: Plea­sure and Pain is get­ting hearts rac­ing with a vast and di­verse col­lec­tion of fas­ci­nat­ing and of­ten bizarre footwear from around the world. Cu­ra­tor He­len Pers­son has di­vided the ex­hibits into five sec­tions: Trans­for­ma­tion, Sta­tus, Se­duc­tion, Creation and Ob­ses­sion, as the col­lec­tion shows hit­mak­ers from well-known brands such as Sal­va­tore Fer­rag­amo, Jimmy Choo and Yves Saint Lau­rent, as well as pieces that be­longed to David Beck­ham, the Queen Mother and El­ton John. Lo­cal star Karen Mok loans 14 pairs from her own col­lec­tion to add a sprin­kle of Hong Kong glam­our.

Shoes: Plea­sure and Pain by Swire Prop­er­ties and the Vic­to­ria & Al­bert Mu­seum runs at Pa­cific Place un­til Oc­to­ber 28

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