Shoes: Pleasure and Pain

@ The Bowes Museum

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11 June 2016 - 09 October 2016

During museum opening hours

£7 - £10.25

Another major fashion coup for this summer, the Museum is the only UK venue outside London staging this exhibition before touring internationally to the USA and China.

Organised by the Victoria and Albert Museum, London it displays more than 200 pairs of historic and contemporary men’s and women’s shoes by 70 named designers, including Christian Louboutin, Manolo Blahnik, Jimmy Choo, Christian Dior and Prada, many from the V&A’s unrivalled collection.

Exploring the agony and the ecstasy of footwear throughout 2,000 years of history, it also examines the elation and passion they can arouse in the wearer.

The exhibition is divided into five specific themes:

  • Transformation – presents shoes that are the things of myth and legend
  • Status – reveals how impractical shoes have been worn to represent privileged and leisurely lifestyles
  • Seduction – shoes representing an expression of sexual empowerment or a passive source of pleasure
  • Creation – how they’re constructed, the beautiful craftsmanship, supply and demand
  • Obsession – the joy and fascination of collecting, owning and wearing

While the show features shoes worn by or associated with famous icons including David Beckham, Sarah Jessica Parker, The Honorable Daphne Guinness, Queen Victoria and Kylie Minogue, it also explores extreme footwear such as tiny 19th Century lotus shoes made for the Chinese tradition of foot binding.

Our Fashion Curators have developed one of the exhibition themes – Obsession – to add a unique Northern and contemporary element. We are thrilled to have added to the touring show, a whole wall of sneakers from two private collections belonging to Ross Macwaters and Neil Pestell. The sneaker wall features about 30 pairs of adidas trainers from the 1960s to the present day.

As the shoes are exhibited thematically, not chronologically, each section is a visual cornucopia of different shapes, styles, materials and colours. They are presented as very beautiful objects, many telling fascinating stories.

Read Amanda Tutin’s blog post on her visit to Shoes: Pleasure and Pain.

The Bowes Museum
Barnard Castle
County Durham
DL12 8NP

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