FIT’s “Shoe Obsession” presents exotic, fashionable footwear

February 11, 2013

Cinderella never would have guessed how greatly the shoe has changed since the days of the glass slipper.

The public has the chance to experience “Shoe Obsession,” the latest exhibition at the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology. The exhibition, which opened on Feb. 8, highlights the deep enchantment people in the 21st century have with both fashionable and outrageous shoes.

The exhibition features approximately 150 examples of some of the most extreme and coveted footwear from notable designers such as Manolo Blahnik and Christian Louboutin, as well as up-and-coming shoe-artists including Dutch designer Marieka Ratmsa, who was honored to have her shoe “Biomimicry” displayed prominently in the exhibit.

“The shoe took about six months to design, and it is inspired by a bird’s skull,” Ratmsa said. “Made out of nylon, the shoe is more of an art piece and not intended to be worn just yet.”

Like pieces in an art exhibition, the shoes on display are truly works of art rather than simple foot protection. The shoes, grouped by style and designer, are displayed in illuminated glass cases and serve as the focal points of the otherwise dark rooms.

Upon conducting research for the exhibition, Colleen Hill, the associate curator of accessories, found that women today own twice as many shoes than women did in the ’90s, and that there is a trend suggesting heel heights and shoe prices have increased.

“I think that shoes have really overtaken handbags as the ‘it’ accessory. They have really become essential to the fashion story,” Hill said. “A lot of women are actually selecting their shoes before they choose their outfit, so they’re really building a look around a pair of shoes.”

Some of the prized pieces of the exhibition are the Christian Louboutin “Pigalle” pumps — red patent-leather stilettos with red spikes on the exterior, Noritaka Tatehana’s “Lady Pointe” shoes designed for Lady Gaga and the infamous silver Manolo Blahnik pair worn by Carrie Bradshaw in “Sex and the City.”

“[‘Sex and the City’] kind of democratized the high-end shoe industry for a lot of women, making familiar names like Manolo Blahnik,” Hill said.

In addition to established shoe designers, “Shoe Obsession” features the creations of a younger generation of designers including Nicholas Kirkwood and Charlotte Olympia.

“Shoe Obsession” will be on display through Apr. 13. Admission is free.

Alyssa Noud is a staff writer. Email her at bstyle@nyunews.com.

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