A Shoe Symphony - FIT`S `Shoe Obsession`
By Katja Schmolka
They stand there as if enclosed in glass jewelry cases, displayed in the beautifully lit glass vitrines at the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology, Shoe Obsession is an exhibition of quite another sort, co-curated by fashion empress Dr. Valerie Steele, director and head curator at FIT. Most of these hand-crafted works of art—there are more than 150 pairs of shoes—tell a story: a story about craft, tradition, society, and status symbols.
The “It Bag” wore out its welcome some time ago and extravagant high heels have marched triumphantly into our closets. And not just one or two pairs. No, the average fashion-conscious American owns up to twenty pairs of heels. “Put on your red shoes and dance the blues,” David Bowie once sang, at a time when glamorous footwear was moving more and more into the avant garde of fashion accessories.
High heels have reached new heights, and so have their prices. A really special shoe simply isn’t affordable for the average woman anymore. Is the high heel perhaps the new Mercedes among accessories? The Shoe Obsession exhibit is devoted to this question. The dizzying heights and unique designs make every woman the queen of her domain. Established masters such as Christian Louboutin, Manolo Blahnik, Roger Vivier und Nicholas Kirkwood understood the significance and magic of shoes and of the women who wear them. But newcomers such as Italy’s Charline De Luca are keeping one step ahead. She discovered her love for shoe design and development by way of architecture. De Luca picked up her design savvy at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design in London. Her approach via architecture inspired her signature high heels made of metal with what almost seems a floating heel, which the Rome native worked in as an allusion to the designs of architect Zaha Hadid.
But a whirlpool of champagne and a small bowl of caviar are Gianluca Tamburini´s fantasy, which he makes vividly rear with his delicately curved heels. His secret: aeronautical materials such as Porum, which is famous for its “shape memory,” providing the extra wearing comfort for which so many women thank him. Three years ago the personable Italian made a switch. With the development of his utterly unique high-tech shoe line, Tamburini went from being a publicist to a successful shoe designer. But he’s fond of natural elements as well: one high heel is studded with green stones forming poisonous plants. Deep violet berries signal a warning: Forbidden Fruit!
“Not diamonds, but heels are a girl’s best friend,” said William Rossi. That’s Andreia Chavez’s view exactly. Instead of diamonds, she places lots of little prism mirrors on her “mirror shoe,” which took nine whole months to develop. “My baby,” as she tenderly refers to her first shoe design. Every high heel is custom-made. It takes about four weeks before you can call it yours. The Brazilian gets her ideas from all over the world
It was in 1947 that Ferragamo made the opening statement of the shoe avant garde: The Invisible Sandal, made of a Fischer nylon weave, nearly invisible on the foot. The lack of materials such as leather after the second world war made it necessary to turn to paper and nylon for shoe production. A manifesto about extravagant fantasies and stylish elegance—so feminine and magic!
Shoe Obsession at FIT
Special Exhibitions Gallery
February 8 through April 13, 2013