High Heels Get High-Art Treatment; in Recent Years, Fashion Has Become the Focus of an Increasing Number of Museum Exhibits. and a Growing Number of Artists Have Been Collaborating with Luxury Labels, Blurring the Distinct Line That Once Separated Fashion and Art. [Derived Headline]

By Shaw, Kurt | Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, June 11, 2016 | Go to article overview

High Heels Get High-Art Treatment; in Recent Years, Fashion Has Become the Focus of an Increasing Number of Museum Exhibits. and a Growing Number of Artists Have Been Collaborating with Luxury Labels, Blurring the Distinct Line That Once Separated Fashion and Art. [Derived Headline]


Shaw, Kurt, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review


In recent years, fashion has become the focus of an increasing number of museum exhibits. And a growing number of artists have been collaborating with luxury labels, blurring the distinct line that once separated fashion and art.

Like Paul Poiret, a contemporary of Picasso and a leading French fashion designer during the first two decades of the 20th century, a small number of notable designers throughout history have stated unequivocally that fashion is art. But the topic continues to be debated, and designers, as well as art and fashion historians, remain divided.

Still, exhibits like "Killer Heels: The Art of the High-Heeled Shoe," which opened June 10 at the Frick Art Museum, make it hard to argue otherwise. Here, visitors will find artfully crafted shoes that defy categorization, featured among nearly 150 historical and contemporary heels on loan from designers, as well as the renowned Brooklyn Museum costume collection housed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto.

Take, for example, Christian Louboutin's "Ballerina Ultima," a pair of 8-inch-high leather "pumps," in which the stilettos force the wearer's feet into the en pointe position of a ballerina.

The tallest heel ever created by the world-famous shoe designer, they were created in 2007 as part of a collaboration with filmmaker David Lynch, whose photographs of the shoes and four other pairs were displayed in "Fetish," a photography exhibit of fetish shoes, which opened at the Galerie du Passage in Paris that same year.

"You couldn't possibly wear them," says Sarah Hall, director of curatorial affairs at the Frick. "You'd need to be a trained ballet dancer to walk in them."

A similar perception cropped up during Japan's Edo Period (1603- 1868), courtesy of a dual-pedestal wood-and-cloth thong sandal called geta, which transformed a woman's natural gait into a ballet of daintily graceful steps.

"They were originally designed to get you across rice patties without sinking into the mud, sort of like a snowshoe," Hall says. "But it evolved into a kind of shoe worn by priests, and then it became associated with wealth when worn by courtesans."

Next to a pair of 19th-century geta is another wooden-soled platform shoe, the "Bamboo Heel" -- designed in 2012 by Dutch fashion designer Winde Rienstra -- comprised of bamboo and plastic cable connecting "zip ties" that form the upper portion of the shoe.

Through her designs, Rienstra seeks to explore the boundaries between art, architecture and fashion, while maintaining principles of sustainability.

"She likes to straddle the line between art and shoe," Hall says. …

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High Heels Get High-Art Treatment; in Recent Years, Fashion Has Become the Focus of an Increasing Number of Museum Exhibits. and a Growing Number of Artists Have Been Collaborating with Luxury Labels, Blurring the Distinct Line That Once Separated Fashion and Art. [Derived Headline]
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