Saturday, January 17, 2015

Brooklyn Museum - Killer Heels

For all that I have read and seen Hamlet, and even studied the work and others inspired by it for an entire semester in college, I blush to admit that I did not, until now, know what a chopine was.  That means I entirely missed (and did not even notice that I missed) this reference in act 2, scene ii:
HAMLET [to one of the Players]: By'r lady, your ladyship is
nearer to heaven than when I saw you last, by the
altitude of a chopine.  

Italian Chopines (ca. 1550-1650)
The museum explains:
"Platform shoes called chopines, like these made of exquisitely decorated cork or wood, were fashionable in fifteenth- and sixteenth-century Italy. They are often described as having been worn to keep women’s garments from touching the dirty streets. Recent scholarship suggests, however, that they were worn as part of conspicuous public displays of wealth and status. Higher chopines meant that gowns required more expensive, sumptuous fabrics to reach the ground. Some chopines were as high as twenty inches."

Several shoes were shown with their apparent inspirations - e.g., gilded baroque furniture with heels that were gilded and baroque - but my favorite was this one which looks both playful and wearable:

Salvatore Ferragamo. Platform Sandal, 1938. Leather, cork. 

This one is “an early twentieth-century example of the sandals worn for centuries by women in bathhouses of the Ottoman Empire to elevate their feet above the wet floors”:
(Syrian) Sandal, 1920’s.  Wood, mother-of-pearl.  
My absolute favorite shoe of the collection was the Mojito:

“Architect Julian Hakes applied his experience in engineering and bridge design to the design of a high heel… he wrapped his foot with tracing paper and masking tape to investigate the biomechanics of the foot.”
Julian Hakes, Mojito (2012)
3-D-printed material
It's not the right shoe if you want arch support, but it's so very cool!

a front angle so you can see the heel grip

Interesting engineering of the elevation, though I suppose
it's fundamentally the same shape as a normal shoe...
at least, where it actually touches the foot.

Iris Schieferstein, Horse Shoes 3 (2006)

Christian Louboutin, Déj à Vu (2011/12)

Beth Levine / Herbert Levine Inc., Slingback Shoe (ca 1962)

I thought this one was very beautiful as well.  Not wearable, necessarily...

Tamar Areshidze, Walking on Water (2012)

Afterward, since I was wearing sneakers, I strolled around the rest of the museum a bit.  

Baleen Whale Mask, 19th Century. Vancouver, B.C.

Miyashita Zenji, Flower Vase, 1995.  
 This looks like a rabbit to me, but maybe I just have Watership Down on the brain...
"Re in the form of a cat, slaying the serpent Apep, Book of the Dead, Chapter 17"
circa 1190-1075 B.C.

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