Prada, spring 2012 From the collection of Lynn Ban Photograph © The Museum at FIT

A Woman’s Right to Shoes

Conspiracy by Gianluca Tamburini Poisonneuse Sandals 2012. Courtesy Conspiracy by Gianluca Tamburini

Why is it that in the 21st century, when we discuss women and their shoes, a number of words better suited to the psychoanalyst’s couch keep cropping up: fetish, empowerment, compulsion, sexuality and obsession. What is about heels (not ballet flats or skimmers) that create an insatiable hunger in otherwise perfectly sane women? These are questions the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology attempts to answer in their current exhibition Shoe Obsession.

Since Roger Vivier debuted the needle heel in 1954, high heels have acquired a powerful and erotic mystique. Women want beautiful shoes, they don’t need them. Of course, the girls on Sex and the City did their bit, rocketing Manolo Blahnik and Jimmy Choo from mere designers to household names. Since then, Christian Louboutin and his signature red soles and Alexander MacQueen have caught the world’s imagination with even higher heels.

Today, the hottest names in shoes are Nicholas Kirkwood, Giuseppe Zanotti, Bruno Frisoni and Pierre Hardy. Now, all the major houses including Lanvin, Prada, Chanel and Dior create new ‘must have’ heels each season.

Shoe Obsession features nearly 150 designs, highlighting the extreme, the extravagant and the down right extraordinary. Heels from the world’s most famous footwear obsessives including Carrie Bradshaw, Lady Gaga, Daphne Guinness and Baroness Monica von Neumann are all featured in the exhibition.

Shoe Obsession is currently on view at the Museum at FIT New York until April 13, 2013.

Prada, spring 2012 From the collection of Lynn Ban Photograph © The Museum at FIT

Roger Vivier (Bruno Frisoni) Eyelash Heel pumps, fall 2012-2013 Rendez-Vous (Limited Edition Collection) Photograph courtesy Roger Vivier/Photo by Stephane Garrigues

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