From flats to stilettos: Exhibit explores what shoes reveal
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.