London’s V&A Exhibit Puts Shoes Centrestage

The unveiling of the new exhibit, “Shoes: Pleasure & Pain,” at London’s V&A Museum certainly put a focus on footwear, and nowhere was this more apparent than with the host of A-listers who turned out to honour the opening.

Guests such as Elizabeth Hurley, Sandra Choi, Patrick Cox, Angela Scanlon, Rupert Sanderson and Ellen von Unwerth all took time to wander around the museum’s new offering, which holds about 250 pairs of shoes, spanning approximately 2,000 years, 20 countries and 70 designers. “Throughout centuries and across cultures, impractical footwear, both for men and women, has denoted privilege and a leisurely lifestyle through design, material, constructions and decoration, making them unsuitable for manual labor – even for walking,” said the curator of the show, Helen Persson. The exhibit also celebrates the design process behind the creation of shoes, and features sketches and inspirations behind some of the world’s wackiest footwear. In addition, guests at the opening party were also treated to a fun montage of famous shoe scenes—from Marilyn Monroe’s walk in “Some Like It Hot” to John Travolta’s strut in “Saturday Night Fever.”

Meanwhile, most discussions during the evening inevitably turned towards what shoes guests had chosen to wear for the event and how they had made their choice. “I chose these because they are made here in London, and I do think that is an amazing feat that they are still producing their shoes here, while everyone else is doing it in Italy or France. And they are comparatively comfortable,” explained Helen Persson of her choice of Swarovski-encrusted Gina pumps. Charlotte Dellal meanwhile (who is behind footwear brand Charlotte Olympia), went for a pair of sculptural gold heels from her own collection. “I always dress from the shoes up, but I did a little vote and decided these deserved to come out,” she said. “They are a favorite on the shoe wall. I have only worn them once before.”

The exhibit is sponsored by shoe brand Clarks and will run until January 31 next year.