Shoes are powerful indicators of gender, status, identity, taste, Shoes: Pleasure & Pain is an intense, comprehensive recount of shoes. Our choice in shoes can be aspirational, even fantastical—and can project an image not just of who we are, but of who we want to be. Featuring extensive new photography, this is a beautiful and authoritative guide to the history and culture of footwear. Iconic creations by celebrated designers sit alongside masterpieces by unknown craftsmen. Embracing both men’s and women’s footwear, from the Chinese lotus shoe to laser-printed contemporary shoes-as-sculpture, Shoes: Pleasure & Pain engages with the cultural significance of shoes. The book also includes a comprehensive discussion of the history of shoe design, and case studies including Marie Antoinette’s shoe collection and the footwear of the Maharajas.
The publication accompanies the exhibition Shoes: Pleasure and Pain previously on view at the Victoria and Albert Museum from June 13, 2015, through January 31, 2016, and currently on the Peabody Essex Museum from November 19, 2016, to March 12, 2017.
Helen Persson is the curator of Shoes: Pleasure and Pain at the Victoria and Albert Museum.