Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Spotlight: Heart and Sole — Plus Heels

The Frick Art Museum puts its best foot (fashion) forward in showcasing sensational shoe masterpieces in a new, high-level exhibition.



Men, I may not know; but shoes, shoes, I know."
—Carrie Bradshaw, "Sex and the City"

I’m a man. Shoes, I don’t know. But shoes, shoes; I know women know shoes. Love ’em. Passionately. Women have tried to explain to me that mysterious female fascination for footwear and heels. (Even the iconic doll Barbie had feet molded for heels.) And I’ve heard Carrie describe it, but I still don’t quite “get” it.

Nevertheless, I’m still open to learning, and I raised my couturial IQ for “Killer Heels: The Art of the High-Heeled Shoe,” the fashion-forward (but also retro) summer show at the Frick Art Museum. Pittsburgh is the last stop on a nationwide tour originating at the Brooklyn Museum and organized by its curator of exhibitions, Lisa Small. It’s also the first of three fashion-focused shows — a new venture — the Frick is planning.

“It speaks to the many stories we tell here at the Frick: about taste, style, aesthetics and society,” says Frick director Robin Nicholson.

Drawing from the show catalogue for perspective, he explains: “High-heeled shoes, with their often astonishing design, have been status symbols for centuries: coveted, adored, reviled, regulated, mocked and legislated against; towering high heels are presented here in all their glory…”
 


We can find the track marks for heels starting in the distant past and follow them over continents, cultures and time. The timeline in “Killer Heels” travels from the 18th century to the present, comprising 150 historic and contemporary high heels organized into six thematic sections: “Revival and Reinterpretation,” “Rising in the East,” “Glamour and Fetish,” “Architecture,” “Metamorphosis” and “Space Walk.”

Although this show revolves around female footwear, male heel history is long and testosterone-intensive. The visually riveting catalogue at the Frick that accompanies the show tells us Greco-Roman actors favored heels, as did Uzbeki men for riding. High heels arrived in the West, it’s theorized, via footwear favored by Persian cavalrymen, introduced through trade in cities such as Venice. That’s also where adventurous women, not to be outdone, climbed onto shoes with nose-bleed-high 20-inch heels.

In art, we notice heels in Hyacinthe Rigaud’s portrait of Louis XIV, where the Sun King regally displays the red heels reserved for royalty beneath his tighty-whitey hosieried gams. After the French Revolution, mens’ heels went out of favor because of their association with the aristocracy, but they still reappear every so often: Think about some of the outrageous killer footwear sported by glam rockers David Bowie and Elton John.

Outrageous might also be a way of looking at some of the coolest creations in “Killer Heels,” which are culled from Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto, the Costume Institute at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art and design houses from around the planet. Brands include Balenciaga, Manolo Blahnik, Chanel, Jean Paul Gaultier, Christian Louboutin, Alexander McQueen and Prada.

A few highlights: How about a skyscraper-stiletto leather-and-metal design by architect Rem Koolhaas created for Lady Gaga and the launch of her perfume, Fame? (Don’t miss the little gold men exploring this fashion-forward sculpture.) Or there’s a silk-and-embroidery homage to fashionista Marie Antoinette by Christian Louboutin, with an image of the tragic French queen and a gravity-defying coif crowned by a miniature French frigate.

Other notable sights, with heels in lower altitude ranges, include Beth Levine’s Kabuki shoes, which belonged to Gloria Swanson, and Ferragamo sandals and slingbacks once part of actress Ruth Gordon’s collection.

Augmenting the show are six heel-inspired or -related video productions by contemporary artists and works on paper. Head (or foot) over to the Grable Visitor Center for a Pittsburgh tie-in.

“I think most of our regular visitors are aware we have a clothing collection,” says Sarah Hall, the Frick’s director of curatorial affairs. But maybe not footwear. Look for samples of shoes worn by Mrs. Henry Clay Frick and her daughter Helen on display. Although conservative dressers, the Frick women acquired footwear with “fabulous details,” Hall notes, including “embroidery, rhinestone-studded buckles and rosettes.” Moreover, “There are lovely boudoir slippers with gold heels that remind me of Turkish slippers in the exhibition,” she says.

Want to get more up close and personal? A Frick first is the Killer Heels Shoe Sponsorship program (killerheelsfrick.org/shoe-sponsorship), which lets you “adopt” something in the show. Describing her own relationship with shoes and heels as “complicated,” Hall admits to a “certain no-nonsense straightforwardness” that has resulted in her sometimes eschewing heels. “On the other hand,” she adds, “there is a strange magic to a high-heeled shoe; you quite literally get a different perspective on the world.”

Right, Carrie?

(Killer Heels: The Art of the High-Heeled Shoe” June 11-Sept. 4, Frick Art Museum, Frick Art & Historical Center, 7227 Reynolds St., Point Breeze; 412/371-0600, thefrickpittsburgh.org)
 

 

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow TagsEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

The Latest

Best Doctors in Pittsburgh 2018

Pittsburgh’s medical lifesavers rated by their peers, including anesthesiologists, cardiologists, dermatologists, neurologists, ophthalmologists, pediatricians, psychiatrists, surgeons, urologists & many more.

How Pittsburgh is Advancing the Care for the Young

Meet four physicians making breakthroughs in medical care to improve the lives of Pittsburgh’s children and adolescents.

‘Conversations’: 8 Interesting People Revive a Lost Art

We sit down with hockey coaches, college students, farmers and the mayors of two cities to see what they had to say.

Restaurant Review: Bitter Ends Garden & Luncheonette is a Sweet Success

Becca Hegarty’s establishment in Bloomfield blends contemporary sourcing with old-fashioned community for a simple yet satisfying neighborhood restaurant.

Avalanche of Info. Shouldn’t Confuse Steelers’ Draft Aspirations

The Steelers could choose a Hercules, a bouncer or a guy with a big butt that he can “anchor,” but can any of them catch a javelin?

After a Decade of Fun, A Strong Avengers Goes Dark

A spoiler-free review of "Avengers: Infinity War."

Watch: Boujee the French Bulldog Breaks Free

Juju Smith-Schuster’s dog makes some sweet aerial moves to get out of its cage.

A Bitter Pennsylvania Rivalry Is the Focus of a New Movie

Few questions spark such intense debate as “Wawa or Sheetz?” A local filmmaker hopes to answer which regional chain reigns supreme.

Kraft Heinz Squeezes Out New Ketchup with Vintage Taste

Can a recipe from 1896 still taste as good?

Tour It: Historic Wilkinsburg Mansion Gets a Makeover

The Junior League of Pittsburgh's Show House is a 112-year-old mansion featuring 28 rooms decorated by a different local design professionals.

Today’s Home Relocating North Hills Furniture Store

Owner Jeff Lenchner says a Discount Tire store will open in place of the store’s current location along McKnight Road in Ross Township.

Is Gabby Barrett the Next Carrie Underwood?

The 18-year-old singer from Munhall wowed the “American Idol” judges once again.

17 Vintage Photos of the Steel City of Old

Take a trip back to a very different Pittsburgh.

These Creative Couples Transformed the Traditional Guestbook

Find out why these couples ditched the traditional guestbook and instead chose a drum head, a giant wooden letter and a dictionary for their guests to sign.

PIT Turns to CMU to Make Airport Smartest in the World

The airport authority will use minds at CMU to discover ways to make it easier for passengers to get from the terminal’s parking lots to their seat on the plane.
Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags


Watch: Boujee the French Bulldog Breaks Free

Watch: Boujee the French Bulldog Breaks Free

Juju Smith-Schuster’s dog makes some sweet aerial moves to get out of its cage.

Comments

A Bitter Pennsylvania Rivalry Is the Focus of a New Movie

A Bitter Pennsylvania Rivalry Is the Focus of a New Movie

Few questions spark such intense debate as “Wawa or Sheetz?” A local filmmaker hopes to answer which regional chain reigns supreme.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
First Look: Soju in Garfield

First Look: Soju in Garfield

Simon Chough’s Korean restaurant is six years in the making.

Comments

New Chefs Coming to Smallman Galley

New Chefs Coming to Smallman Galley

Smallman Galley will rotate its third class of chef/owners this June … but this time there’s a twist.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
The 2018 Return of the Burgh-y Mother's Day Gift Guide

The 2018 Return of the Burgh-y Mother's Day Gift Guide

It's back! From the dog mom to the working mom, we've got you covered with these locally made must-haves.

Comments

The 5 Best Places to People Watch in Pittsburgh

The 5 Best Places to People Watch in Pittsburgh

A coffee shop, an iconic landmark, an airport and beyond — these are the best places to practice the art of people watching.

Comments


Coughlin's Law Wants To Be Your Mount Washington Destination

Coughlin's Law Wants To Be Your Mount Washington Destination

Notes on the busy new bar and restaurant near Grandview Avenue.

Comments

Smallman Galley Goes 3D With Its New Cocktail Menu

Smallman Galley Goes 3D With Its New Cocktail Menu

The bar team at the Strip District restaurant incubator continues its flights of fancy with Flashback Flavors.

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
Avalanche of Info. Shouldn’t Confuse Steelers’ Draft Aspirations

Avalanche of Info. Shouldn’t Confuse Steelers’ Draft Aspirations

The Steelers could choose a Hercules, a bouncer or a guy with a big butt that he can “anchor,” but can any of them catch a javelin?

Comments

Patriot Games Can’t Diminish Harrison’s Place in Steelers History

Patriot Games Can’t Diminish Harrison’s Place in Steelers History

James Harrison intimidated opposing players in a way not seen since the days of Jack Lambert and Mean Joe Greene.

Comments


The movies that are playing in Pittsburgh –– and, more importantly, whether or not they're worth your time.
After a Decade of Fun, A Strong Avengers Goes Dark

After a Decade of Fun, A Strong Avengers Goes Dark

A spoiler-free review of "Avengers: Infinity War."

Comments

I Feel Pretty Isn't What You're Expecting (And That's Okay)

I Feel Pretty Isn't What You're Expecting (And That's Okay)

Reviews of "I Feel Pretty" and "Super Troopers 2," plus a rundown of events at the Pittsburgh Underground Film Festival.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
These Creative Couples Transformed the Traditional Guestbook

These Creative Couples Transformed the Traditional Guestbook

Find out why these couples ditched the traditional guestbook and instead chose a drum head, a giant wooden letter and a dictionary for their guests to sign.

Comments

The Best Ways to Reuse and Repurpose Wedding Decor

The Best Ways to Reuse and Repurpose Wedding Decor

From new decor in the home to donations to charity, check out these ways to repurpose leftover wedding decor.

Comments


Weekly inspiration for your home from the editors of Pittsburgh Magazine
Tour It: Historic Wilkinsburg Mansion Gets a Makeover

Tour It: Historic Wilkinsburg Mansion Gets a Makeover

The Junior League of Pittsburgh's Show House is a 112-year-old mansion featuring 28 rooms decorated by a different local design professionals.

Comments

Today’s Home Relocating North Hills Furniture Store

Today’s Home Relocating North Hills Furniture Store

Owner Jeff Lenchner says a Discount Tire store will open in place of the store’s current location along McKnight Road in Ross Township.

Comments