The Palm Springs Art Museum is kicking their upcoming season off in style with an exhibit titled Killer Heels. The theme of the exhibit is the art of the high-heeled shoe. The exhibit runs through December 13.
When you look at a high-heeled shoes, you wouldn’t expect such a detailed history, but they have a history going back to the 17th century. There are 50 historical designs and 110 contemporary designs in the exhibit and many of the shoes have come from designer archives, the Brooklyn Museum, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
As you walk through the exhibit, you’ll notice some very strange designs, and some that are not what they seem. One example is called “NOVA,” designed by Zaha Hadid at United Nude. It’s based on an architectural design and it’s made of vinyl rubber, napa leather, and fiberglass. The design of the shoe resembles a futuristic building.
Some of the more historical high heels are based on 17th and 18th century living. For instance, the history of the platform shoe was worn in Europe during the 18th century to avoid the garbage and muck on the streets at the time. The exhibit also touts that the high heeled shoe was worn by aristocratic men, which is not all that strange when you consider the men’s “formal pump” or it’s name of the “opera pump” having a very feminine design.
Other interesting shoes in the exhibit are a pair of Lady Gaga’s heels that have miniature people crawling up the shoe, a shoe known as “Beyond Wilderness” that has a tree design, and 19th century shoes from China known as the “Manchu.” There are short films to accompany the exhibit that have some cultural, sexual, social, and other miscellaneous themes related to high heeled shoes.
The exhibit is not large, but there are plenty of fascinating designs and history to give you a perspective of how simple of a fashion accessory has played into culture going that far back in history to explain how many of the modern designs originated. There are also some high heels that have functions you would not expect. Of course there are some truly ridiculous designs that obviously were not meant for wear, such as a pair of modern wooden platform shoes that don’t appear to have any type of insole or support for one’s foot.
If you want a more detailed history, there is a small library reference table outside of the exhibit that offers books with more information on the history of high heeled shoes.
Whether you are an art history buff or someone who just enjoys a good exhibit, this is a show worth going to.
Please visit Palm Springs Art Museum’s website for more information:
Photos By: Arslane Merabet