Shoes: Pleasure and Pain – V&A

My auntie and my cousin love shoes even more than I do, so when they came down to London for a few days they were determined to visit the new Shoes: Pleasure and Pain exhibition at the V&A. They invited me along too, and I was happy to accept.

The exhibition contains weird and wonderful shoes from history, fashion and everyday life, spanning the globe and a period of centuries. It displays around 200 pairs of shoes, exhibited largely on boxes with mirrrors behind to showcase the entire shoe. The shoes belonged to both men and women and were worn for all sorts of different occasions, encompassing Seventies platform heels, eighteenth century Indian wedding shoes, Fifties stilettos, tiny shoes for bound or “lotus” feet in China and moccasins from Canada. It was interesting to see how historical styles influenced more modern designers and how shoes reflected wealth and social status: for instance, fragile shoes with high heels were generally worn by the rich who lived idle lifestyles. There was a section on fetish shoes and another one for famous shoes, including David Beckham’s football boots and the ballet shoes worn by Moira Shearer in The Red Shoes.

The second level of the exhibition contained information about how shoes are made, including some very modern 3D-printed sandals. This exhibition is an absolute must-see for anyone who loves shoes.

The Red Shoes. Image courtesy of