By Falon Moran | December 6, 2016 | Culture
The Peabody Essex Museum explores the pleasure and pain of the heel.
One of nearly 300 extraordinary shoes on view at the Peabody Essex Museum, the Nova, designed by the late architect Zaha Hadid for United Nude, is one of the only shoes in history to employ rotation molding, creating a smooth, seamless finish.
You think your six-inch Jimmy Choos are tough to strut in? Try walking on a rubber, fiberglass, and leather platform. Architect Zaha Hadid wore them (the Nova, above) just fine; of course, she designed them herself for Dutch footwear brand United Nude. You can see those, along with gaggles of other spectacular creations, at “Shoes: Pleasure and Pain,” a special exhibition dedicated to the cultural significance, technical development, and transformative capacity of shoes, running through March 12, 2017, at the Peabody Essex Museum.
Presented in partnership with Dress for Success Boston’s shoe drive (November 16–27), the exhibit showcases nearly 300 pairs of vintage and contemporary footwear from around the globe, including the Vivienne Westwood blue platforms worn by Naomi Campbell during her infamous 1993 runway fall.
“It’s really quite fascinating to see the range of creativity that fashion from different times and places has called out for something that basically was intended to be purely functional,” says the museum’s deputy director, Lynda Hartigan. Unable to choose a favorite, Hartigan does hold a special place in her heart—and on her feet— for Christian Louboutin’s Anemone stilettos in bright pink. “To me, that shoe epitomizes everything about how we move in our shoes, what our shoes say about ourselves in terms of emotions, in terms of how we want to project,” she says. “Plus, they’re extraordinarily feminine.” 161 Essex St., Salem, 978-745-9500
PHOTOGRAPHY BY MAX KRASNOV (BACKGROUND); © VICTORIA AND ALBERT MUSEUM, LONDON (NOVA SHOE)