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"Shoes: Pleasure and Pain" at the Bowes Museum
Ballet shoes made for Norma Shearer, The Red Shoes, © Northampton Museums & Art Gallery.


CO DURHAM.- The Bowes Museum announces a major fashion coup for summer 2016.

The Museum is the only UK venue outside London that will stage Shoes: Pleasure & Pain, which opened on Saturday 11 June in its award winning Fashion & Textile Gallery.

The exhibition, organised by the V&A, displays more than 200 pairs of historic and contemporary men’s and women’s shoes by 70 named designers, including Christian Louboutin, Manolo Blahnik, Jimmy Choo, Christian Dior and Prada, many from the V&A’s unrivalled collection.

Exploring the agony and the ecstasy of footwear throughout 2,000 years of history, it also examines the elation and passion they can arouse in the wearer.

The exhibition has been divided into five specific themes:

• Transformation – presents shoes that are the things of myth and legend

• Status – reveals how impractical shoes have been worn to represent privileged and leisurely lifestyles

• Seduction – shoes representing an expression of sexual empowerment or a passive source of pleasure

• Creation - how they’re constructed, the beautiful craftsmanship, supply and demand

• Obsession - the joy and fascination of collecting/owning/wearing

While the show features shoes worn by or associated with famous icons including David Beckham, Sarah Jessica Parker, The Honorable Daphne Guinness, Queen Victoria and Kylie Minogue, it also explores extreme footwear such as tiny 19th Century lotus shoes made for the Chinese tradition of foot binding.

Joanna Hashagen, the Museum’s Curator of Fashion and Textiles, said: “As the shoes will be exhibited thematically, not chronologically, each section will be a visual cornucopia of different shapes, styles, materials and colours. They are presented as very beautiful objects, many telling fascinating stories.”






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