Over the years shoes have grown from a simple necessity to statement-making works of wearable art. As designers in the last decade have continued to push the envelope and raise the style bar, women the world over are coveting their latest creations. And now we have the exhibit to celebrate it, thanks to the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology (MFIT). The Manhattan-based college’s “Shoe Obsessed” exhibit will be on display Feb 8 to Apr. 13, celebrating contemporary shoe designers and how they have transformed the world of footwear since 1999. Approximately 150 styles will be showcased, including works from some of the most in-demand designers such as Manolo Blahnik, Christian Louboutin, Alexander McQueen and Nicholas Kirkwood.
“We wanted shoes that were exhibition-worth, shoes that would really covet,” says Valerie Steele, co-curator of the exhibit and director and chief curator of the museum. She describes the collection as “eye candy,” adding that this is the first ever exhibit focused on a mix of contemporary designers. Steele believes the timing of “Shoe Obsessed” is ideal because of the “flourishing of shoe designs” and the category’s growing popularity. “People have twice as many shoes in their wardrobe than [they did] a decade ago,” she says. “Shoes have taken over from the “It” bag as the accessory choice. You make a major fashion statement with a pair of shoes, and they are so collectible.”
Embracing their inner Carrie Bradshaws, Steele and her co-curator, Colleen Hill, immersed themselves in the world of high-end fashion to find standout shoes for the exhibit. Such unique pieces as Noritaka Tatehana’s 18-inch Lady Pointe shoes worn by Lady Gaga, Eyelash Heel pumps by Roger Vivier and Charlotte Olympia’s Kiss Me Dolores pumps that feature a set of bright-red lips on the toes will be on display. Shoes from fashion powerhouses like Givenchy and Prada will also be featured, as well as prized styles of various shoe enthusiasts, including jewelry designer Lynn Ban, Baroness Monica van Neumann and Daphne Guinness.
A “Shoe Obsessed” book will be on sale as well, with all proceeds benefiting FIT, a State University of New York. Steele believes the exhibit and the book will be terrific conversation starters about why designer footwear is currently so popular. “From Cinderella to Carrie Bradshaw, people are obsessed with shoes – their glamour and sex appeal,” she says, noting the exhibit buzz is spreading fashion. “Women are extremely excited to see it.”