A Personal Collection of Vivienne Westwood Shoes at York Castle Museum

PUBLISHED: 00:00 28 August 2018

A pair of ivory white satin shoes with curved toes and Louis heels (circa 1730)

A pair of ivory white satin shoes with curved toes and Louis heels (circa 1730)

supplied

York Castle Museum makes great strides with a new exhibition of Vivienne Westwood shoes.

Vivienne Westwood Gold Label Bag Boot from the A/W 2000 collectionVivienne Westwood Gold Label Bag Boot from the A/W 2000 collection

Shoes can be a source of both pleasure and pain. The pleasure comes from their beauty and breathless desirability, and the pain can be literal (quart in a pint pot anyone?), financial or bordering on the metaphysical when it dawns on you that the pair you crave are never going to be yours.

Few of us have not had a Carrie Bradshaw moment when it comes to shoes; that ‘must have, must have’ mantra running through our heads as we run down the high street towards the heels of our dreams.

The Sex and the City fashionista, played with fleet-footed panache by Sarah Jessica Parker, made it OK to love shoes, to beg, borrow or steal for a Manolo Blahnik, to go completely cuckoo over a Jimmy Choo and to spend $40,000 on shoes instead of a down-payment on an apartment (complete with a wardrobe to put all your gosh-darn gorgeous shoes in).

When Big finally – finally! – proposes to Carrie, he doesn’t get down on bended knee to put a ring on her finger, he gets down on bended knee to put a shoe on her foot. And not just any shoe; a blue satin, brooch-bejewelled Hangisi Manolo Blahnik pump.

François Pinet tan leather ankle boots with button side fastenings from around 1900-10, specially chosen by Dame Vivienne from the museum’s collectionFrançois Pinet tan leather ankle boots with button side fastenings from around 1900-10, specially chosen by Dame Vivienne from the museum’s collection

According to Vogue, these life-changing pumps (love that word – in a purely platonic Miranda Hart way) are among the most iconic shoes of all time. Others that make the cut are Alexander McQueen’s Armadillo shoe, a 12in claw-like design that Daphne Guinness said was ‘actually very light and comfortable’; Audrey Hepburn’s ballet flats, a shoe first conceived in the 16th century and given a new lease of life in Funny Face in 1957 when the elfin actress teamed them with slim, cropped trousers and beautiful eyes the size of dinner plates; and Cinderella’s glass slipper, reinterpreted by Christian Louboutin as the quintessential happily-ever-after shoe.

Not one but two of Vivienne Westwood’s designs get honourable mention on the list: her 1981 Pirate boot, which actually didn’t reach its zenith until 1999 when Kate Moss bought a vintage pair in Notting Hill and sparked a spear-like spike in demand; and her Gillie platforms, a nine-inch, purple mock-croc tower that even supermodels can’t walk in without a safety net.

Both are now on show at York Castle Museum in A Personal Collection of Vivienne Westwood Shoes chosen by the designer herself.

Curated to highlight the beauty, innovation and artistry of the cutting-edge footwear created by this pioneering British fashion designer, the exhibition, which runs until next April, shows Westwood’s changing aesthetic over a period of three decades, as well as the clear influence of both street culture and traditional cordwainers’ methods.

Bespoke men's Derby boots with a stacked leather heel made by AE Marlow for the Saxonia brand in Northampton (early 20th century)Bespoke men's Derby boots with a stacked leather heel made by AE Marlow for the Saxonia brand in Northampton (early 20th century)

Visitors are now being invited to take a walk on the wild side with her punk fashion from the 1970s and 1980s, including the Seditionaries boots favoured by The Sex Pistols, her controversial (as if she ever does anything that isn’t) Three-strap Prostitute shoe and her infamous ‘super-elevated’ heels of the 1990s (yes, including that one that caused Naomi Campbell to come a cropper on the Paris catwalk).

To compliment her own personal collection, Dame Vivienne has also selected shoes from the museum’s own historic fashion archive. Ranging from the 18th century to the present day, she has included a pair of handmade Georgian satin shoes, Edwardian boots designed by François Pinet and a pair of Christian Dior shoes designed by Roger Vivier, creator of the stiletto heel.

A Personal Collection of Vivienne Westwood Shoes is on at York Castle Museum until April 28th 2019. The exhibition is open daily from 9.30am-5pm. Admission is £11 for adults, children free with at least one paying adult. For details, visit yorkcastlemuseum.org.uk

More from Out & About

Yesterday, 00:00

The first ever National GetOutside Day takes place on Sunday 30 September with the aim of getting 1 million people active outdoors across the UK.

Read more
Mon, 00:00

There’s lots going on in Wakefield so visitors shouldn’t just confine their visit to the nationally famous Hepworth gallery, says Tony Greenway.

Read more
Thursday, September 13, 2018

Flamborough might be small but it has a big beach bag full of fun stuff for visitors to do

Read more
Flamborough
Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Enjoy this walk with its secretive paths through shady woods starting from a classic North York Moors village

Read more
Tuesday, September 11, 2018

The Gateway to the Dales can be the perfect base for a walking holiday around the Yorkshire Dales, this selection of walks are all within a ten mile radius of the market town.

Read more
Skipton
Monday, September 10, 2018

Ambitious plans are going ahead to create new and unique public gardens that will inspire your own planting

Read more
York
Thursday, September 6, 2018

There’s much more to Leyburn than you might expect, as Martin Pilkington discovered when he joined the growing throng of visitors.

Read more
Leyburn
Wednesday, September 5, 2018

There are plenty of reasons for the obvious pride locals have in Brighouse

Read more
Brighouse
Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Organisers of the 160th Great Yorkshire Show welcome many thousands of visitors to their anniversary extravaganzer

Read more
Great Yorkshire Show
Tuesday, September 4, 2018

The hidden life below the waves is vital to the wildlife above it. Clea Grady from Yorkshire Wildlife Trust takes a peek into the North Sea

Read more

Topics of Interest


Follow us on Twitter


Like us on Facebook

Subscribe or buy a mag today

subscription ad

Local Business Directory


Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy


Property Search