Got shoes? Then come to the Mint Museum of Art in Charlotte to delight your wildest shoes fantasies. “The Heights of Fashion: Platform Shoes Then and Now” exhibit highlights 60 examples of platform shoes, sandals and boots from the 1930s till present time.
Admission to the museum is $10 adults, $5 children, seniors and students. TIP! Get in for free on Tuesdays from 5 to 9PM; You can use the Mint Museum of Art admission ticket to also see the Mint Museum of Craft and Design downtown (and vice versa) for up to 2 days.
The exhibition includes high fashion platform shoes by couture designers like Vivienne Westwood, Jimmy Choo, Ruthie Davis and Roger Vivier, whose innovative designs incorporated modern engineering with vintage inspiration. Salvatore Ferragamo, who elevated the platform shoes from casual beachwear to high fashion in the 1930s was the first to introduce the wedge heel.
Fetish platform shoes with thick soles and very high heels appeared as early as 1920s. They continue to hold an important place in the fashion market (Goth boots being perfect example) with designs that suggest fun, fantasy and perhaps, forbidden pleasures.
Platform Shoes in World Cultures (data provided by MMA exhibits)
• In Ancient Greece, actors wore shoes with thick soles to heighten their stature for the audience.
• From 1400 to 1700 pedestal shoes called chopines were widely popular (especially among the courtesans) in Italy and Spain. Their heels measured anywhere from 6 inches to sometimes 20 inches tall! In the 17th and 18th centuries slap soles and pattens were removable thick soles over-shoes that protected expensive silk shoes from contact with muddy streets.
• in Japan, for centuries and to this day, geta are the traditional footwear platform worn with both everyday and ceremonial robes. Okobo or Pokkuri geta or the thick platform shoes worn by apprentice geishas.
• In China, during the Qing dynasty, the Manchu people of the Northeast provinces used the qixie, that gave the wearer the appearance of “lotus bud shoes” similar to that of women whose feet have been bound for years. In ancient China men wore black boots with very thick sole made from layers of white clothes. This style of boots is still worn today on stage for Peking opera.
• The Yoruba culture of West Africa produces carvings of twin figures, the ibeji, sometimes wearing thick platform sandals.
• In India, members of the Jain religion, wear sandals with thin sided hollow platform soles as statements of protecting life and thus preventing the crushing of insects underfoot.
Of course no platform shoe exhibit will be complete without the beloved “Kork-Ease”, a simple sandal with tan water buffalo hide straps on a beige suede wrapped cork wedge-heel platform sole.
While inside the Mint Museum of Art make sure to visit the “The Art of Affluence: Haute Couture and Luxury Fashions 1947 – 2007” an ode to classic designers such as Chanel, De la Renta, Dior, Givenchy, Saint Lauren and Valentino. The cherry on the cake is Elton John’s haute couture ensemble by Versace.
Once done with the art take the short drive to Freedom Park to relax, play ball, hike or bike or just see one of the free summer movies.
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