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Killer Heels: The Art of the High-Heeled Shoe

DATES September 10, 2014 through March 1, 2015
  • April 1, 2014 One of the most provocative and iconic objects of desire will be explored in the exhibition Killer Heels: The Art of the High-Heeled Shoe, on view at the Brooklyn Museum September 10, 2014, through February 15, 2015. Through more than 160 artfully-crafted historical and contemporary high heels from the seventeenth century through the present, the exhibition examines the mystique and transformative power of the elevated shoe and its varied connections to fantasy, power, and identity.

    Killer Heels: The Art of the High-Heeled Shoe will be organized in six thematic sections—Revival and Reinterpretation, Rising in the East, Glamour and Fetish, Architecture, Metamorphosis, and Space Walk—encompassing early forms of the elevated shoe, architecturally-inspired wedges and platforms, razor-sharp stilettos, and shoes that defy categorization. The exhibition also features six short films inspired by high heels that were specifically commissioned for this exhibition from artists Ghada Amer and Reza Farkhondeh, Zach Gold, Steven Klein, Nick Knight, Marilyn Minter, and Rashaad Newsome.

    The objects, both traditionally made and conceptual in nature, explore and play with the elevated shoe’s sculptural, architectural, and artistic possibilities. Early shoes on view include mid-seventeenth century Italian chopines made of silk, leather, and wood, European leather and metal pattens from the eighteenth century, and nineteenth-century cotton and silk embroidered Manchu platform shoes from China. Other highlights of Killer Heels are Marilyn Monroe's Ferragamo stilettos (1959); stiletto mules of silk, metal, and glass by Roger Vivier for House of Dior (1960); and a wool "heel hat" made by Elsa Schiaparelli in collaboration with Salvador Dalí (1937–38). Contemporary heels in the exhibition include "Printz," from Christian Louboutin's Spring/Summer 2013–14 collection; Céline's fur pump (2013) covered in mink; a black leather platform bootie with an 8-inch heel designed by United Nude for Lady Gaga (2012); and several other designs made in collaboration with United Nude, such as Zaha Hadid's chromed vinyl rubber, kid nappa leather, and fiberglass "Nova" shoe (2013); and Iris van Herpen's 3-D printed heel, "Beyond Wilderness" (2013).

    Killer Heels: The Art of the High-Heeled Shoe is organized by Lisa Small, Curator of Exhibitions at the Brooklyn Museum, and will present works on loan from both established and emerging designers and fashion houses, including Manolo Blahnik, Chanel, Tom Ford, Zaha Hadid X United Nude, Pierre Hardy, Iris van Herpen X United Nude, Nicholas Kirkwood, Christian Louboutin, Alexander McQueen, Prada, Winde Rienstra, Elsa Schiaparelli, Noritaka Tatehana, and Vivienne Westwood, as well as works from the Bata Shoe Museum and the Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art that include classic shoes by André Perugia, Pietro Yantorny, Salvatore Ferragamo, Roger Vivier, and Beth Levine.

    A fully illustrated catalogue will accompany the exhibition and will include essays by Lisa Small; Stefano Tonchi, Editor-in-Chief of W Magazine; and Caroline Weber, Associate Professor of French at Barnard College and author of Queen of Fashion: What Marie Antoinette Wore to the Revolution. The exhibition will travel to venues to be announced.

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  • April 2, 2014
    Tamar Areshidze
    Steven Arpad
    Brian Atwood
    Susan Bennis/Warren Edwards
    Rosanne Bergsma
    Manolo Blahnik
    Richard Braqo
    Isabel Canovas
    Andreia Chaves
    Christian Dior
    Dolce & Gabbana
    Salvatore Ferragamo
    John Fluevog
    Tom Ford
    Jean Paul Gaultier
    Georgina Goodman
    Zaha Hadid X United Nude
    Julian Hakes
    Pierre Hardy
    Iris van Herpen X United Nude
    Marc Jacobs
    Nicholas Kirkwood
    Aoi Kotsuhiroi
    Masaya Kushino
    Chau Har Lee
    Beth Levine
    Christian Louboutin
    Kerrie Luft
    Martin Margiela
    Alexander McQueen
    Miu Miu
    Charlotte Olympia
    André Perugia
    Tea Petrovic
    Cat Potter
    Winde Rienstra
    Yves Saint Laurent
    Iris Schieferstein
    Elsa Schiaparelli
    Zuzana Serbak
    Christian Siriano
    Victoria Spruce
    Walter Steiger
    Noritaka Tatehana
    Rem D. Koolhaas
    René van den Berg/Karin Janssen
    United Nude
    Viktor & Rolf
    Roger Vivier
    Atalanta Weller
    Vivienne Westwood
    Pietro Yantorny
    Giuseppe Zanotti

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  • February 1, 2015 The Brooklyn Museum announced today the extension of Killer Heels: The Art of the High-Heeled Shoe. The popular exhibition, originally scheduled to close on February 15, will remain on view through Sunday, March 1.

    Killer Heels explores fashion's most provocative accessory, the high-heeled shoe. The exhibition looks at the high heel's rich and varied history—from the platform chopines of sixteenth-century Italy to the glamorous stilettos on today’s runways and red carpets— and its enduring place in our popular imagination. Deadly sharp stilettos, architecturally inspired wedges and platforms, and a number of artfully crafted shoes that defy categorization are featured among the more than 160 historical and contemporary heels on loan from designers such as Chanel, Manolo Blahnick, Alexander McQueen, and Christian Louboutin, from the renowned Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, from the Metropolitan Museum’s Costume Institute, and from the Bata Shoe Museum. Presented alongside the objects in the exhibition are six specially commissioned short films inspired by high heels.

    The filmmakers are Ghada Amer and Reza Farkhondeh, Zach Gold, Steven Klein, Nick Knight, Marilyn Minter, and Rashaad Newsome. Killer Heels: The Art of the High-Heeled Shoe is organized by Lisa Small, Curator of Exhibitions.

    Killer Heels is sponsored by Nordstrom. The exhibition’s print media sponsor is W Magazine.

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