Frick Art & Historical Center to host ‘Killer Heels’ exhibit
Encased in glass or displayed on a pedestal, these shoes won’t be walking anywhere.
But they will be admired and showcased at “Killer Heels: The Art of the High-Heeled Shoe,” coming to the Frick Art & Historical Center, Point Breeze, from June 11 to Sept. 4.
“My main impulse in organizing this show was to bring a historical dimension and for people to look at shoes, regardless of designer, and to see them as sculptural and architectural pieces of art in unusual designs, “ says Lisa Small, curator of exhibitions for Brooklyn Museum and this traveling show.
Small has devoted a lot of time in deciding where to send this exhibit — looking for a good partner or institution, she says.
Showcasing fashion is not the usual programming for the Frick, which is precisely why museum director Robin Nicholson is eager to welcome it. Since taking over the leadership position a little over a year ago, his goal has been to bring in something different.
“I really want to build our audience,” Nicholson says. “And shows with a reputation for fashion have come to mind because they can attract someone who might not have been to the Frick before. ‘Killer Heels,’ as well as other fashion exhibitions, have been well-received. These exhibitions create a lot of buzz. High heels are art and can be conversation pieces. And they aren’t necessarily the easiest accessory to wear. When we have someone like Lady Gaga who tests the boundaries of high heels … people notice and talk about it.”
“Killer Heels” explores fashion’s most provocative accessory, from the high-platform chopines of 16th-century Italy to the glamorous stilettos on today’s runways and red carpets. More than 160 historical and contemporary heels are on loan from designers, the renowned Brooklyn Museum costume collection housed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto.
Welcoming such an exhibit is an awesome idea, says Audrey Guskey, Duquesne University associate professor of marketing and consumer trend expert
“This is a really good way for the museum to extend itself and reach a different target market and reach a new audience,” Guskey says. “This is more than a fashion exhibit, because fashion is related to culture and history. … High heels are about fantasy and power and identity and sex. They are interesting objects and are more than just a fashion statement. Shoes have been popular for centuries.”
Bringing any exhibition takes a lot of planning, Small and Nicholson agree, from finding the right match to accommodating scheduling.
Shoes sometimes are regarded as small works of ‘sculpture,’ and are often related to architecture, as well, says Colleen Hill, associate curator of accessories, The Museum at FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology) in New York, which curated “Shoe Obsession” in 2013.
“Many women will buy shoes because they love the way they look, not necessarily because they think they’ll wear them frequently — if ever,” says Hill. “Unlike other types of fashion, footwear can be enjoyed by nearly anyone. Shoes are typically much easier to fit than clothing. Designer shoes — though expensive — are still more affordable than high-end clothes or even handbags. They can also add a lot of personality and self-expression to an ensemble.”
JoAnne Klimovich Harrop is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at [email protected] or 412-320-7889.