A new show at the Brooklyn Museum explores the most provocative accessory in women´s fashion: “Killer Heels.” It features around 160 historical and contemporary heels on loan from museums and designers; there is quite a lot to see. From the sixteenth-century Italian high platform (chopines) to the architectonic sci-fi wedges by Noritaka Tatehana, a favorite of Lady Gaga or Bjork.
“The fact is, sometimes it’s hard to walk in a single’s shoes. That’s why we need special ones now and then – to make the walk a little more fun.” Carrie Bradshaw, Sex & the City
Defying sometimes common sense, these artfully crafted objects represent the creativity and imagination of designers like Prada/Miu Miu whose shoes, among my favorites, look sexy but have an interesting cultural reference. There are few Manolo Blahnik mules and stilettos that would make crave Carrie Bradshaw. Chanel shoes are always looking somewhat wearable and elegant.
Iris van Herpen made with United Nude a pair of wedges using a brand new 3D-printing technique. The shoes were inspired by the banyan tree and looked as if they were naturally grown and intertwined, rather than digitally created. Although I always admired Iris van Herpen collections, these wedges appeared to me pretty ugly and uncomfortable. Sorry. Also collaborating with United Nude, architect Zaha Hadid designed a pair of silver shoes that look great by themselves, not so sure if they do on women.
Then you have classic red stilettos from Salvatore Ferragamo and the red sole fetish by Christian Louboutin, and the biomorphic shoes by Alexander McQueen with a sci-fi design and Vivienne Westwood´s mix between Louis XIV of France and punk. It is a feast for shoe lovers.
However, I did regret that they didn’t install mirrors surrounding the shoes, without you had sometimes just one side of the shoe displayed. The light-levels were also very low, I guess for conservatory reasons, but overall the show felt a bit crowded, in the sense of the space given to display the show, because the show is very interesting and engaging.
There were six specially commissioned short films inspired by high heels for the show, and I believe this is where the money went. The videos were terrific.
Artist Ghada Amer had an interesting installation in a room of two videos where women were depicted looking from above and stepping with their hills onto the camera (in this case the viewer or us). Rashaad Newsome made kaleidoscope images with the moves of dancers getting crazy in a fun video that brought laughter by more than one visitor.
Steven Klein fetish three short videos of women walking on blindfolded men and smashing a toy car were curiously violent and unsettling. Photographer Nick Knight had a metaphorical one with a woman wearing a pair of glass shoes with sounds of a woman suffering.
Probably the most unexpected was knowing that high heels originally were worn by men as a trend acquired Europeans from the Persians at the end of the XVI century until the arrival of the Enlightenment, XVII.
September 10, 2014–February 15, 2015
Robert E. Blum Gallery, 1st Floor
Killer Heels: The Art of the High-Heeled Shoe is organized by Lisa Small, Curator of Exhibitions, Brooklyn Museum. A fully illustrated catalogue accompanies the exhibition.
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