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The Bowes Museum - Shoes: Pleasure and Pain

The Bowes Museum - Shoes: Pleasure and Pain

Organised by the V&A, it will display more than 200 pairs of historic and contemporary men’s and women’s shoes by 70 named designers, including Christian Louboutin, Manolo Blahnik, Jimmy Choo, Christian Dior and Prada, many from the V&A’s unrivalled collection. 


Exploring the agony and the ecstasy of footwear throughout 2,000 years of history, it will also examine the elation and passion they can arouse in the wearer.  

The exhibition will be divided into five specific themes:

  • Transformation – will present shoes that are the things of myth and legend        
  • Status – will reveal how impractical shoes have been worn to represent privileged and leisurely lifestyles        
  • Seduction – shoes representing an expression of sexual empowerment or a passive source of pleasure        
  • Creation - how they’re constructed, the beautiful craftsmanship, supply and demand        
  • Obsession - the joy and fascination of collecting/owning/wearing

While the show will feature shoes worn by or associated with famous icons including David Beckham, Sarah Jessica Parker, The Honorable Daphne Guinness, Queen Victoria and Kylie Minogue, it will also explore extreme footwear such as tiny 19th Century lotus shoes made for the Chinese tradition of foot binding. 

As the shoes will be exhibited thematically, not chronologically, each section will be a visual cornucopia of different shapes, styles, materials and colours. They are presented as very beautiful objects, many telling fascinating stories.

For a limited time only if you book your tickets early the Museum will absorb the cost of the booking fee so there will be no additional charge to pay on top of the normal admission fee.

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