From flats to stilet­tos: Ex­hibit ex­plores what shoes re­veal

Kuwait Times - - LIFESTYLE -

ABoots aren't just made for walk­ing. On the con­trary, footwear has cap­ti­vated hearts and minds world­wide for cen­turies. Whether a pair of crys­talline em­bel­lished slip­pers, or thigh-high boots with plat­form heels, shoes show our per­son­al­i­ties, moods and so­cial sta­tus. That's the premise be­hind "Shoes: Plea­sure and Pain," an ex­hi­bi­tion open­ing Satur­day at the Pe­abody Es­sex Mu­seum in Salem, Mas­sachusetts, ex­am­in­ing the his­tory and cul­tural rel­e­vance of what we strap to our soles.

"We're all born with bare feet and shoes fa­cil­i­tate our move­ment, but shoes also re­veal our iden­tity," said Lynda Roscoe Har­ti­gan, co­or­di­nat­ing cu­ra­tor for the ex­hi­bi­tion. The show, or­ga­nized by the Lon­don-based Vic­to­ria and Al­bert Mu­seum, is com­prised of boots, slip­pers, pumps, loafers and san­dals from around the world dat­ing to the 17th cen­tury.

Through our shoes, Roscoe Har­ti­gan said, we all project "cer­tain as­pects of power and au­thor­ity" - even if those mes­sages are sub­lim­i­nal. One clas­sic ex­am­ple of af­flu­ence and power wrapped into a shoe is the high heel. Yet, func­tion­al­ity and com­fort are of­ten over­looked in their de­sign. In 1993, su­per­model Naomi Camp­bell made head­lines when she stum­bled on a Paris run­way dur­ing Fash­ion Week. The Vivi­enne West­wood plat­forms Camp­bell was wear­ing - a pair of cobalt blue, mock croc­o­dile skin shoes with 9-inch heels be­came icons overnight. They're now part of the Salem show.

Also on dis­play are sev­eral pairs from high-end re­tail­ers such as Jimmy Choo, Christian Louboutin and Manolo Blah­nik, made fa­mous by the HBO se­ries "Sex and the City." One pair of men's golf shoes by Prada is cov­ered in brightly col­ored rhine­stones. "You would never as­sume they're some­thing men would play golf in," Roscoe Har­ti­gan said. But this ex­hi­bi­tion is more than just a dis­play of exclusive footwear. There are shoes used for foot bind­ing, an an­cient Chi­nese cus­tom in which a girl's four toes were tucked be­neath the foot in an ef­fort to pre­vent growth. One pair of silk, cot­ton and metal-wrapped lo­tus shoes is just 4 inches long. sec­tion of stairs from the Eif­fel Tower in Paris sold for more than half a mil­lion eu­ros, auc­tion­eers said yes­ter­day-more than 10 times the pre-sale es­ti­mate. The 14 wrought-iron steps from a wind­ing stair­case be­tween the se­cond and third floors of the Paris land­mark went for 523,800 eu­ros ($556,000) af­ter fu­ri­ous bid­ding at the sale in the French cap­i­tal. Auc­tion house Artcu­rial said the dra­matic sale on Tues­day had "un­leashed the pas­sions" of sev­eral in­ter­na­tional buy­ers, with bids ris­ing rapidly from 20,000 eu­ros, leav­ing the 40,000 euro es­ti­mate far be­hind.

The prize even­tu­ally fell to a tele­phone bid from an Asian buyer. Auc­tion­eer Francois Ta­jan said "the bat­tle over the phone and in the auc­tion room for the stairs showed the pro­found at­tach­ment there is for a mon­u­ment that is so em­blem­atic of French cul­ture." The stairs date from 1889 when the leg­endary French engi­neer Gus­tave Eif­fel built the 324-me­tre (1,063-foot) ed­i­fice as the cen­ter­piece of the Paris Uni­ver­sal Ex­hi­bi­tion. It soon be­came the most iconic fea­ture on the Paris sky­line, and is France's most vis­ited mon­u­ment de­spite suf­fer­ing calls for its de­mo­li­tion in the years af­ter the ex­hi­bi­tion.

It is still the coun­try's third tallest struc­ture, and was the high­est build­ing in the world for 41 years un­til the con­struc­tion of the Chrysler Build­ing in New York in 1930. The stairs were re­moved from the tower in 1983 to make way for a lift and cut into 24 sec­tions, rang­ing from two to nine me­ters high. Sev­eral were bought by mu­se­ums while oth­ers ended up in the gar­dens of the Yoshii Foun­da­tion at Ya­manashi in Ja­pan, be­side the Statue of Lib­erty in New York and at Walt Dis­ney World in Florida, next to its copy of the Eif­fel Tower. Artcu­rial sold a larger 3.5-me­tre sec­tion of 19 steps for 220,000 eu­ros in 2013.

Ta­jan said he was par­tic­u­larly "moved by the

Un­til the 1600s, shoes were made to fit an in­di­vid­ual - a process that could in­volve up to 200 stages of con­struc­tion. By mid-cen­tury, Europe's mid­dle class pop­u­la­tion ex­ploded and ready-to-wear shoes be­came avail­able. On dis­play are shoe lasts - wood or plas­tic forms used by shoe­mak­ers - from the late Princess Diana, Char­lie Chap­lin and other celebri­ties. "The whole thing is pretty amaz­ing," said Faith Krei­der, of New­ton, Mas­sachusetts, who viewed the ex­hi­bi­tion. "There's a wide variety of footwear down through the ages." "Shoes: Plea­sure and Pain" runs through March 12, 2017. — AP sale... hav­ing watched the first sale of the stair­cases in 1983 which was presided over by my fa­ther Jacques Ta­jan." Although the Eif­fel Tower stairs fetched "an ex­cep­tional price", the high­est from the sale of Art Deco arte­facts was four mon­u­men­tal sculp­tures by Ge­orges Saupique which went for 1.24 mil­lion eu­ros. Saupique is best known for his bust of Mar­i­anne, the woman who sym­bol­izes the French repub­lic. — AFP

This file photo shows the Eif­fel Tower, in Paris. —AFP pho­tos

A red stiletto shaped cus­tom car is dis­played at the en­trance of the Pe­abody Es­sex Mu­seum.

Guests snap im­ages of a shoe closet dis­play at the Pe­abody Es­sex Mu­seum in Salem, Mass.

This file photo shows peo­ple walk­ing at sun­rise on the Tro­cadero Es­planade, also known as the Parvis des droits de líhomme (Parvis of Hu­man Rights), in front of the Eif­fel Tower in Paris.

El­ton John’s rain­bow glass em­bossed plat­form boots, de­signed by Bill Whit­ten in the 1970’s, are dis­played at the Pe­abody Es­sex Mu­seum in Salem, Mass.

The shoe forms, molded from Princess Diana’s feet, are dis­played at the Pe­abody Es­sex Mu­seum in Salem, Mass.

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