Look At Those Clothes!

Musings on style and fashion

“What a Heel!” Tall Shoes at the Brooklyn Museum


Photo by jdurham

Kind of funny that the Brooklyn Museum is mounting an exhibit  honoring the high-heeled shoe as an artistic and architectural object at the very moment when many fashion designers and editors are declaring the stiletto and its ilk dead, dead,  dead. Had the museum already planned the exhibition when the (famously fickle) fashion world declared sneakers and Birkenstocks, the height of uncool a mere 6 months ago, as the only footgear a fashionista should ever venture out in?

After all, news has surely reached Brooklyn that Karl Lagerfeld sent every single model in his Fall 2014 ready-to-wear show for Chanel (you know, the one set in a faux supermarket) down the runway in sneakers or trainers.  And the museum curators must occasionally pick up a fashion magazine, in which they could hardly avoid seeing “athletic” shoes of one sort or another for half a grand and up from Versace, Marc Jacobs, Gucci, and on and on and on. (Well, OK, you can pick up a pair here and there for 200 or 300, if you don’t care what you look like.)

Or did the museum decide that a beautiful object retains its beauty (and its historical interest; did you know, for example, that men used to wear high heels?) even when the It Girls (perhaps motivated by their aching feet) have decided to spurn it?

Whatever the reason, “Killer Heels: The Art of the High-Heeled Shoe” looks like a fun show. You’ll see 160 shoes—contemporary ones lent from design houses such as Manolo Blahnik, Chanel, Christian Laboutin, Salvatore Ferragamo  (modern re-inventor of the platform shoe) and even the architect Zaha Hadid  (that is one out-there shoe, lemme tell ya) and also historical ones (from the museum’s vast costume collection). Stop by if you’re in Brooklyn anytime from September 10, 2014, through February 15, 2015. And wear your Birks.


Photo by bluekdesign

Categories: Art of Fashion, Been to a Museum Lately?

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

2 replies

  1. Although the sneakers and Birkenstocks are easier on the feet, they really have little to offer in the way of class. In fact, I view them as ugly. I cannot imagine wearing them with elegant dresses, but they are!!
    The world of fashion …..


    • I actually do like the “high-low” mix idea, but I’d choose some other casual footwear if I wanted to use shoes to dress down an elegant dress; those original Birks are just such homely little devils! But now that they’ve become cool with the fashion crowd (no doubt the biggest shock the company’s experienced since their founding in 1774), they have come out with some with some rather classy sandals. And if I can find their Maine lace-up for less than 160 bucks (!), I’d consider a pair for city walking.

      But sneakers–I must demur as to their ugliness. I love sneakers–real sneakers, that is, canvas (or, to stretch it, leather) shoes with rounded toes and flat soles, not trainers or athletic shoes–the ones with the goofy-shaped thick soles and mesh and rubber bumpers and weird stitching. They’re utility shoes. They serve a useful purpose (to help you run and walk safely), and to the extent that those features help them fulfill their purpose, fine. I will even wear them for that purpose. But they’re ugly. And all the snappy new colors and patterns designers are coming out with (and charging major bucks for) don’t, in my more or less humble opinion, change that basic fact. They were ugly in the 70s and 80s and 90s and they’re ugly now. And I think they look just plain stupid in a lot of the outfits showing up on runways and in fashion editorials. I think it’s a case of the emperor’s new clothes, a dumb fashion moment that I predict won’t last long because deep (or even superficially) down, people know these shoes look goofy with anything but athletic clothes.

      I sympathize with all the sore-footed women who’ve had it up to here with teetering around on high heels, but surely we can do better than athletic shoes! The shoe industry could certainly help if they’d stop acting so clueless and come up with both casual and dressy shoes that are classy and comfortable and good for your feet, even if you’re running up and down subway stairs and walking for blocks or miles. How hard could it be, for pity’s sake?

      And one more thing–I wish people (media, fashion editors and others in the biz and the world at large) would stop calling trainers sneakers. They are not the same thing, people! Read a little history and get your terms right, puh-leeze.

      End of rant. Aren’t you glad you wrote?!?


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