Shoes: Pleasure and Pain


Our autumn 2015 exhibition Shoes: Pleasure and Pain will look at the extremes of footwear from around the globe, presenting around 200 pairs of shoes ranging from a sandal decorated in pure gold leaf originating from ancient Egypt to the most elaborate designs by contemporary makers. It will consider the cultural significance and transformative capacity of shoes and will examine the latest developments in footwear technology creating the possibility of ever higher heels and dramatic shapes. Examples from famous shoe wearers and collectors will be shown alongside a dazzling range of historic shoes, many of which have not been displayed before.

In these posts we will take you behind the scenes as we prepare the show, with insights into what goes into putting on a major exhibition and the stories behind some of our key objects.

Back to the blog front page

The art and craft of shoes

Max triumph1

I thought it was important to give shoe designers and shoe makers a voice, to let them talk about their visions and craft in the exhibition Shoes: Pleasure and Pain, and not only have their end products on show. How do you make shoes? How do you come up with new ideas for shape and […]

Keep reading

Guest Post: Installing Shoes- Pleasure and Pain

IMG_2269

Second year student on the V&A/RCA History of Design MA, Joanne Pilcher takes us behind the scenes of the installation of the exhibition ‘Shoes Pleasure and Pain’. ……………. Recently Gallery 40 in the Victoria and Albert Museum has been a hubbub of activity as we have prepared for and installed everything for the exhibition ‘Shoes: Pleasure […]

Keep reading

All that glitters is not gold – or is it?

Figure 4
The golden surface of the sandal viewed with the microscope inbuilt in the XRF machine. The laser in the center of the cross hairs shows the exact spot analysed, which is 0.2 mm across

Science meets Shoes. Go behind the scene and find out what we do to our objects before they can go on display. This is the tale of the two Lucias, Lucia the research assistant and Lucia the scientist: together we reveal aspects of our job related to the forthcoming exhibition “Shoes – Pleasure and Pain”. […]

Keep reading

Installing shoes

Beckham boots

The installation of Shoes: Pleasure and Pain started last week – and it is so exciting! To finally see the finished build and new design of the space in Gallery 40, is just amazing after months of planning and discussing. The space looks very different from previous exhibitions, intimate and quite dark on the ground […]

Keep reading

Unrivalled Shoe Archive

Rope sandals

The V&A has an amazing collection of shoes, well over 2,000 pairs spanning over 3,000 years from across the world. Majority of the shoes once belonged to the upper echelons of the society, the best and most extreme in shoe designs, but there are also some footwear that originally clad the feet of farmers and workers. Although […]

Keep reading

Kinky Boots

399hh

This article is written by Joanne Pilcher, a volunteer on the Shoes: Pleasure and Pain exhibition and student on the V&A/RCA History of Design course. In my role as a volunteer for the Shoes: Pleasure and Pain exhibition I have been going through the acquisition files for all of the shoes and other objects that will appear […]

Keep reading

Location, location, location, (photography)

location 5

The publication that will accompany ‘Shoes, Pleasure & Pain’ will showcase the shoes and their stories and it has been my job to provide a new set of photographs for it. The majority of my photography is carried out in a very well equipped studio; lights that track across the ceiling (no cables or trip […]

Keep reading

Clogs perfect for Christmas

geta fur1

The traditional simple wooden clog, called geta, comprise of a raised wooden base and fabric thong to keep the foot well elevated above the ground. They look a little bit like wooden flip flops on stilts. The geta, worn in Japan by both women and men with clothing such as the kimono, originally had a practical function; elevating […]

Keep reading

Pink bag

IMG_20141014_164121

Today I went to the studio of one of London’s up and coming shoe designer to pick up a new acquisition that will feature in the exhibition: “Shoes: Pleasure and Pain”.   The exhibition will only open in June 2015. We are 6 months away; however, we are already very busy acquiring new objects for the […]

Keep reading

Where do you keep all your shoes?

IMG_20141015_101109

Today Emma (exhibition assistant and I) have received a large delivery of shoes. But where do the museum keep all their shoes? This question has already been answered by Will ‘s post here. But what happens to the shoes once they have been selected by curators to become part of an exhibition? Now that the […]

Keep reading