Archive for the ‘Shoes at the Museum’ Category
This week marked the launch of a new website: AliveShoes.com. This site serves as an online portal and art exhibit that, in the words of an AliveShoes spokeswoman, “is an art experiment that melds art and fashionable sneakers into wearable art. Artists from around the world, including New York artists such as Steven Siegel and Jonathan Allen have used a specific number of AliveShoes in the creation of each work of art. ”
This is an interesting concept for shoe lovers who are willing to look beyond shoes in their everyday role as personal fashion and into the realm of shoes as part of the artistic process. There are many shoes out there that are intrinsically formed to be wearable art. Rarely do we encounter shoes used as the base artistic medium from which to create larger works of experiential art.
Thus far, the artworks represented are installation pieces that incorporate large numbers of Alive Shoes in their presentation. Each shoe that is part of an installation has distinguishing marks added to it that identify with which artwork they belong. After the installations are ended, these shoes will be available for purchase by the general public and will help to fund the creation of future artworks.
Above: Screenshot – the “Alive Economy”
Shoe marked with installation information
Just to give you an idea of the types of art pieces they are presenting, here are some of the promotional photos of two outdoor environmental installations (Available in the Catalogue area of the website):
Panoramic View: ‘Beach Blocks’ by Steven Siegel
Detail: Beach Blocks by Steven Siegel. Video available at AliveShoes.
‘Piede a Terre’ by Sebastiano Mauri; video available at AliveShoes website.
A third piece ‘Through the Glass’ by Francesco Arena, is an installation piece with performance elements. It is available here at the AliveShoes website.
Now, if you are an established or emerging artist who is interested in creating your own AliveShoes project, there is an option on the site for you submit your own project ideas. Instructions and links are provided in a pop-up window:
So, they are obviously planning on moving forward with this collaborative process as an ongoing project and potential support network for artists.
Unfortunately, the current artworks are all geographically located at specific, separate locations in Italy (or in some cases have come and gone and only exist in film and photography records). So, the website is as close as I, and I suspect several others, are going to come to being able to view these initial exhibits. Which is a shame – since I tend feel that art, and especially immersive artworks of this type, is best experienced first hand.
Let us know what you think.
As you may recall from recent coverage of NY Fashion Week (Fall 2009), fashion is yet another area that has been affected by the recent economic downturn. No, fashion has not stopped, but for many designers, large fashion shows in the Bryant Park tents just were not in this year’s financial picture (See articles here and here).
Interestingly enough, the ‘Presentations’ – like this one from Naeem Khan, put me in mind of an art/fashion exhibition that I was lucky enough to attend several years ago at the Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI) – Theatre de la Mode – on loan from the Maryhill Museum of Art. I was actually lucky enough to see the rarely shown ‘Opera Set’ which is actually too tall to be exhibited at the MMA.
The Theatre de la Mode came about as a result of the immediate Post WWII period when French couturiers were subject to such drastic manufacturing shortages that putting on any kind of fashion show seemed impossible. There were doubts that Haute Couture could survive. When shoes and food are rationed luxuries, what place does fashion hold?
After all, if you are considering attempting to power hair dryers via ‘pedal power’ – things are definitely on the tight side (From May 1945 issue of Mechanix Illustrated).
But, fashion finds a way. In this case, the result was a collection of miniature wire-frame 27.5-inch dolls wearing the newest fashions by renowned French Fashion Designers. Fabrics were scarce, but having each fashion house design for and clothe a two-foot tall doll was much more realistic than having each designer try to have a complete fashion show. Even with fabric shortages, small amounts of luxury materials could be acquired to perform this task. So, this was the basis if the Theatre de la Mode. It has also been referenced as ‘Theatre de la Mode, or the Return of Hope’; the subtitle reflecting that even though times were difficult and luxuries were rare, that people would continue to dream and create.
Now back to 2009 ‘Presentations’ – Just to give you a quick point of reference:
Naeem Khan ‘Presentation’ – Photo via www.nypost.com
Then, a quick comparison photo from the Theatre de la Mode exhibition:
Interestingly similar appearance. At least today’s fashion houses are not limited by materials shortages and rationing that significantly limit what they can produce – even for a 2 foot tall model.
So, here are more photo’s from a period when fashion was at a much lower point than we are seeing today. It is a wonderful window on the staying power of art, beauty, and fashion:
And yes, the fashion houses even made beautifully stitched shoes and other accessories to go along with the diminutive dolls.
All Theatre de la Mode exhibition photos courtesy of B.A. White
So we are reminded that even in the toughest times, art and fashion find a way to prevail.
The MMA normally exhibits three of the in-house sets per year, changing which sets are on display annually. If you find yourself in Seattle or Portland, the extra trip out toward the Columbia Gorge in southeast Washington to catch this exhibit is definitely worth the drive.
On a related note: If you happen to be a doll collector with a love of history, the Tonner Doll Company has made reproductions of several of the Theatre de la Mode fashion dolls.
Additional reading for those interested in learning more on this exhibit and its history:
And maybe you remember when a shoe monument was built in Tikrit by a sculptor (assisted by orphans, no less) to mark the momentous occasion?
Well, just now on CNN and CNN.com, I’ve learned that the monument has been taken down by Iraqi government officials.
CNN says “By tradition, throwing a shoe, is the most insulting act in the Arab world.” If the reasoning behind this train of thought were that you are willing to lose your valuable shoe in order to make a statement, it would make a lot of sense to me, but apparently the reasoning is because the shoe and foot are “ritually unclean.”
Thousands of miles away, meanwhile, in Marikina, the Shoe Capital of the Philippines, shoes are worshipped and idolized as the great vehicles they are, fantastic giant shoe floats parade down the river and the Shoe Museum features shoes from Former Philippine First Lady Imelda Marcos’ collection.
My favorite shoe monument is the Bata Shoe Museum, an entire museum in Toronto devoted to the history of shoes and modern museum-worthy contemporary shoe couture. I was lucky enough to visit it last year. It’s full of everything from high-heeled Italian sandals of the early 18th century to beautiful modern Louboutins, and there is currently an exhibit on ballet shoes called “On Pointe” until February 22.
Roger Vivier’s shoes have been a regular feature on this blog. Really, how could we not blog about Roger Vivier, the Fragonard of the shoe, when the designer is credited for inventing the stiletto heel, comma heel, and pilgram buckle.
Today, I present to you this Roger Vivier for Dior pump, circa 1954. It’s one of the first designs of a thin metal stake we now call the stiletto and is every bit as lovely as it was fifty odd years ago.
And if you have a ton of free time on your hands, and I do emphasize a ton, I highly encourage you to peruse the Costume Institute’s meticulously cataloged online collection, which is where I found this photo. It would take hours just to review the buckles and Chanel pieces on the site.
After last week’s Friday Shoe History Corner trip to the Louvre, I thought we’d take a gander at London’s V&A this week. Their Golden Age of Couture show (focused on Paris and London between 1947 and 1957) is now closed, but the website is still up, so in case you didn’t get to see it in person, here are a few of the Roger Vivier footwear highlights. Being a French designer, of course, these all fall into the “Paris” half of the show, and some of them have a suitably couture over-the-top decadence about them, while others rely on the simplicity of the shape to make a woman’s foot look divine.
Coral and diamante embroidered satin, late 1950s, for Christian Dior
Pink satin embroidered with metallic thread and sequins, ca. 1958, for Christian Dior
Coral and diamante embroidered satin, ca. 1958, for Christian Dior
Remind you of the iconic pilgrim shoes that Shoesense adores? Indeed. This version is satin with a diamante buckle, from the late 1950s, for Christian Dior.
Tulle over satin, 1954, for Christian Dior
Any of these would still make a strong statement at a party, and when the no-doubt uber fashionable ladies of the 1950s wore them out, I’ll bet they did the same thing.