Killer Heels: The Art of the High-Heeled Shoe runs from 10 September 2014 to 15 February 2015 at Brooklyn Museum and explores fashion’s most provocative accessory. From the high platform chopines of sixteenth-century Italy to the glamorous stilettos on today’s runways and red carpets, the exhibition looks at the high-heeled shoe’s rich and varied history and its enduring place in our popular imagination.
As fashion statement, fetish object, instrument of power, and outlet of artistic expression for both the designer and the wearer, throughout the ages the high-heeled shoe has gone through many shifts in style and symbolism. Deadly sharp stilettos, architecturally inspired wedges and platforms, and a number of artfully crafted shoes that defy categorization are featured among the more than 160 historical and contemporary heels on loan from designers, from the renowned Brooklyn Museum costume collection housed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and from the Bata Shoe Museum. Designers and design houses represented in Killer Heels include Manolo Blahnik, Chanel, Salvatore Ferragamo, Iris van Herpen X United Nude, Christian Louboutin, Alexander McQueen, Prada, Elsa Schiaparelli, Noritaka Tatehana, and Vivienne Westwood.
Presented alongside the objects in the exhibition are six specially commissioned short films inspired by high heels. Nick Knight's film sits next to works by Steven Klein, Ghada Amer and Reza Farkhondeh, Zach Gold, Marilyn Minter Rashaad Newsome.
Knight's film, La Douleur Exquise, features a specially-made, one-of-a-kind pair of glass shoes made by footwear designer Georgina Goodman. The glass slipper in fairytales has become a leitmotif for the painful pursuit of love. It is a symbol that embodies both profound beauty and implicit violence. While at first glance incredibly seductive, the shoe is uncomfortable to wear and presents the constant peril that the glass will smash and sever the skin. The film plays with this fetishistic emblem, creating a story of extreme fragility and danger. Passion, tension, hardship and discomfort are all themes that underly this exploration of shoes.