Stilettos and flats, boots and wedges, sandals and totally impractical footwear displayed on red velvet cushions with gold tassels, on mirrored shelves and pedestals; the Christian Louboutin exhibition at the Design Museum truly represents many a fashionista’s dream shoe collection and manages to transform them from practical to artistic.
And while this exhibition as a whole is drool-worthy and truly inspiring, I felt the fetish room best represented shoes as art in a beautiful artistic marriage between filmmaker David Lynch‘s photography and Louboutin‘s creations.
Originally showcased in a Parisian show at Galerie du Passage (here’s a review of that show by Wallpaper), this collaboration takes fetishism to the next level.
Entering the fetish room feels naughty and exciting. I want to look but I’m uncomfortable that people will think I have a foot fetish, that I’m getting off on these images. Around me people quietly mock the shoes and images in a way that can only suggest they are uncomfortable with their sexual nature. I don’t hear any compliments regarding this artistic marriage between shoes and photography, so I assume that the silent viewers share my appreciation.
In the fetish room the shoes are sexual and sensual, captivating and intriguing. This display forces me to consider feet as a body part that can be desired in the same way the media fetishises breasts and bottoms.
Instead of perverting foot fetishes, this collaboration respects them, exploring what it means to love feet to such an extreme that one would want to worship them. Together Lynch and Louboutin find a visually intriguing way to accurately represent different styles of foot fetishism with voyeuristic photographs that let us explore this lifestyle at a distance.
And while the shoes are overtly sexual, the images possess an undertone of sensuality, of tenderness – a suggestion that, while these sexual desires are kinky, they are also precious.
I leave wondering if Louboutin has a foot fetish that allows him to love shoes so much he feels compelled to create such stunning footwear.
Christian Louboutin is on display at the Design Museum in London until 09 July 2012.