In his 1701 portrait, Louis XIV of France wears red-heeled shoes. While it seems like a minor detail, especially given the opulence of the king’s robes, the poppy red shade sends an instant message–status. Louis XIV even passed an edict limiting red heels to the wardrobes of nobility. Today, red soles are the trademark of Christian Louboutin, whose stiletto pumps cost upwards of $700. Not much has changed since the 18th century with regards to red heels and their mesmerizing effect.
The themes of status, fetish and fashion are explored in an exhibit “Killer Heels” hosted by Brooklyn Museum. “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,” explains the catalog.
The exhibit includes work of renowned designers such as Christian Louboutin, Alexander McQueen, André Perugia, Prada, Elsa Schiaparelli, Noritaka Tatehana, Vivienne Westwood, among many others. It also traces mentions and depictions of heels in paintings and sculptures, some of which date as far back as the 12th century.
Even if you can’t make it to the exhibit, please take a look at the video on the Brooklyn Museum site.
Killer Heels: The Art of the High-Heeled Shoe
200 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn, NY 11238
Robert E. Blum Gallery, 1st Floor
September 10, 2014–February 15, 2015
Image: Louis XIV of France by Hyacinthe Rigaud, 1701 (a detail).