Shoes: Anatomy, Identity, Magic

By Brittany Aubain

The Museum at FIT has transformed its lower floor into a whirlwind of pumps, platforms, sneakers, and even crocs with its new exhibition Shoes: Anatomy, Identity, Magic.

The immersive exhibit features 300 out of the 5,000 pairs of shoes in the museum’s “closet” and begins with baby shoes. Guests learn how shoes influence our lives throughout the exhibit and they can participate in a talk and tour.

Prada black and red patent leather mules (Italy, Spring 2012)

Anatomy represents how we hold ourselves when wearing different pairs of shoes, say the exhibit curators Valerie Steele and Colleen Hill. We’re more likely to run in sneakers than heels and be aware of our movements when wearing heels instead of sneakers.

New Balance needle point running shoes

Identity is how we subconsciously associate different kinds of shoes with specific groups of people, say curators. It’s as simple as ballet shoes for ballerinas and rubber-soled sneakers for athletes; or a bit more complex by associating stiletto shoes with a femme fatale.

(L) Capezio, pink satin pointe shoes (USA, 1941)
(R) Noritaka Tatehana pink leather platforms (Japan, 2012)

Alberto Guardiani black patent leather pumps with “lipstick” heels (Italy, Spring 2013)

Black patent leather fetish platforms (Mexico, 1973-1975)

A red room is where the magic happens, literally. We all have that one pair of shoes we feel will work magic for us, whether it’s how we move or feel, say curators. For Cinderella, it’s her glass slipper; in The Red Shoes, it’s about the pointe shoes.

Shoe Biz clear vinyl and acrylic pumps (USA, 1981)

Men’s shoes included Alan McAfee black leather brogues (England, circa 1950), Bally black leather loafers (Switzerland, circa 1970), Versace black leather boots with metal studs (Italy, Summer 1992), Pierre Cardin brown patent leather boots (France, circa 1968) and Gucci blue silk brocade mules (Italy, Spring 2017).

Shoes: Anatomy, Identity, Magic is open until December 31 at The Museum at FIT.

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