… was an exhibition of footwear from the vast Stuart Weitzman Collection of Historic Shoes, on show at the New-York Historical Society between April-October 2018. Over a 100 pairs of these (mostly) wearable artworks were on display and I was in shoe heaven, barely able to restrain myself from trying them on – and walking away.
Scroll down and tell me you wouldn’t…
”Mary Jane” was originally a character in a popular newspaper strip, Buster Brown. In 1904, the Brown Shoe Company licenced her image to market children’s shoes. Eventually, any shoe with a chunky low heel and a strap across the instep became know as a ”Mary Jane”.
Women throughout the Islamic Middle East wore stilted wooden bath clogs such as these for over four centuries. An adaptation of ancient Roman shoes called sculponea, qabâqib were similarly associated with bathing and bath houses. Nineteenth-century European orientalists considered these highly desirable collectibles, symbolizing an imagined ”Eastern” exoticism and eroticism.
The ballerina Heather Watts wore this pair of pointe shoes on January 15, 1995 for her farewell performance as a principal dancer with the New York City Ballet, which she joined in 1970. Watts afterwards told the New York Times, ”I need to live in new shoes.”
”The sex is in the heel / Fierce as you can make it / The sex is the appeal”, sings Lola, the drag queen at the heart of the musical Kinky Boots. The hit Broadway show is based on the true story of a struggling shoe factory that survived by producing high-heeled fetish footwear in men’s sizes.
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