Shoe Obsession



of an Exhibit

by Arielle Krieger

Published on April 11, 2013

  • Description:

    Even if you are just browsing the exhibits at The Museum at FIT, the Shoe Obsession exhibition, simple yet elegant like a stunning stiletto, captivates you completely and makes sure your only thoughts revolve around shoes, leaving you as shoe obsessed as the designers and collectors. The Shoe Obsession exhibit at The Museum at FIT is intended for an audience of fashion lovers and art lovers alike. While the fashion aspect of the exhibition draws a more obvious audience, the creativity placed in selecting the shoes displayed allows for the exhibition to attract a wider range of visitors. I believe the Shoe Obsession exhibition’s main intention is for visitors to find the beauty in both functional shoes as well as in shoes that are purely art and even those which are structurally impossible to wear. The exhibition leaves you questioning, ‘would I wear that?’ and forces you to explore the fine line that exists in the exhibition between shoes as wearable fashion and shoes as art.

    Upon entering the museum lobby, the exhibition immediately strikes you with a large white wall showcasing larger-than-life images of shoes. The stark contrast of this brilliant white wall compared with the more muted tones of the lobby grabs your attention and guides you further into the museum. Also in the entrance of the museum is a monitor showing a film featuring various shoe designers, collectors, and others who are shoe-obsessed. As you enter the actual exhibition, found behind double doors and down a flight of fluorescent lit stairs, it is clear you are entering into a world where shoes and only shoes matter.

    The first room of the exhibition is dark, with light seemingly only coming from the four large, glass display cases showcasing carefully curated shoes. You have no choice now but to only focus on and become consumed by the shoes around you, leaving you inching towards shoe obsession as well. The shoes on display in the first room range from beautiful stiletto heels designed by well-known designers to chunky heels with blonde and brown human hair flowing off the back of the shoes in a ponytail fashion. The juxtaposition displayed of the stunning, classic shoes and the outrageous, elaborate shoes serves as an eye-opening introduction to what the second room of the exhibition holds.

    The exhibition’s second room is an overwhelming sight compared to the first room. Three rows of the same tall glass cases, filled with exquisite shoes, line the large room. Some displays feature specific designers while others house the personal collections of some shoe-obsessed women, such as Baroness Monica von Neumann of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills fame. It quickly becomes apparent that the collectors and the designers both share the same intense infatuation with shoes. Labels on the cases state the designer, year made, and, when applicable, the collector. Other labels include a title to the work, such as Christian Louboutin’s “Makeup Trash” or Manolo Blahnik’s “Hangisi” design, made popular by their appearance in the Sex and the City movie as Carrie Bradshaw’s ‘something blue’ for her wedding day. The titling of shoes further associates the designs with artwork and highlight’s the desire of designers to be viewed as artists.

    Besides the overwhelming collection of high-heeled shoes on display in the exhibition’s two rooms, the only other element the exhibition allows you to focus on is a wall at the front of the second room where all of the 49 designers on display in the exhibition are featured on a mini biography wall. Even here, the short tidbits on the artists reference their obsession with shoes, how they got started in the shoe designing business, or what inspires them when designing shoes. One bio even references a designer’s work with an architect when constructing their shoes.

    The Museum at FIT’s website for the Shoe Obsession exhibition provides web-visitors with an enticing introduction to the exhibition. The same text that appears on the exhibition’s page of the website is provided for visitors of the museum, enlarged on a feature wall, in the exhibition’s first room. The website also highlights a link to a Flickr page with a sneak peek of some of the 150 shoes featured in the exhibition. While the images provided give you a taste for what the exhibition holds, it in no way prepares you for the extravagancy and ornateness viewed in person at the museum.

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