Thursday, 11 June 2015

I don't have a thing about shoes. My heart doesn't flutter at the sight of Jimmy Choos and I thought most of the red carpet and catwalk shoes in the V&A's new exhibition looked ridiculously vulgar or stupid or plain ugly.

I couldn't care less about celebrities or what they are wearing. I found myself standing next to Lady Gaga this afternoon and I was wondering who the daft-looking person with the silly plaits was when she turned into a pumpkin and disappeared in a flurry of minders ... and I realised that I'd have to confess to my nieces that I hadn't taken much notice of what she was wearing. (I'm pretty sure she'd taken off her hat. Surely I'd have remembered the hat!)

So I whizzed around the exhibition in half-an-hour. (If it were hats, I'd have been there all day.)

I'm far more interested in shoes with a bit of history than anything worn today. I did rather like these saucy red ankle boots which must have been rather risqué in 1870. And Lady Ribblesdale's court shoes
from 1797 were simply exquisite, down to the royal coat of arms on the insoles.

I was also intrigued by a natty pair of ocelot ankle boots, c 1943, remodelled from their owner's old fur coat, with red leather platforms and tassels and 10cm heels. Which only goes to show that making do and mending was a heck of a lot easier if you happened to belong to the social class that had spare fur coats.

Kate Middleton's nude patent court shoes from LK Bennett looked cheap and nasty ...

And Marilyn Monroe's white stilettos looked cheap and scuffed. (But were actually Ferragamo.)

I couldn't leave the V&A without returning to the Alexander McQueen exhibition which was just as hauntingly beautiful second time round. Lingering in the Cabinet of Curiosities feels like you're trapped in McQueen's brain. If you go to one exhibition this century ... it really is that good.

On my way home, I dropped in to the Summer Exhibition. I didn't think much of the art.But I loved the staircase. (How many rolls of sticky tape, do you think ...)


Lucille said...

I'm looking forward to that staircase and the brightly coloured rooms that Michael Craig-Martin has designed.
I found the Cabinet of Curiosities too claustrophobic. Even with the timed ticketing everyone seemed to be stuck in there, mesmerised and dazed. It didn't help that I was with a friend and we hadn't agreed in advance to go at our own pace and meet outside, so I was forever losing her in the crowd.

Sue said...

At last, someone else who doesn't care about shoes. I follow the V&A on instagram and have been getting a bit annoyed by all the shoe pictures, especially the ones of members of the public showing off their shoes. Yawn.

Toffeeapple said...

I care so little about shoes that I mostly wear purple Crocs!

I saw a woman yesterday, trying to walk in high heeled, platform shoes (I think the colour was nude) and her toes were so pinched in them that she will surely get a bunion, if she doesn't fall off them.

Toffeeapple said...

I forgot to say that a good place to see historical shoes is Northampton Shoe Museum, I have spent many hours wandering there.

Katharine A said...

I'm getting behind. I've not seen the McQueen, nor the shoes nor the summer exhibition. But on a completely different tack, I have seen and loved Peter Kennard at the Imperial War Museum. There's work in the exhibition from when he was 19. I'd be interested to know what you thought if you saw it. I did go in a tour with the curator, it was very good.

mary said...

I enjoyed the explosion of colour, Lucille - but otherwise it's the same old Summer Exhibition. I only went to see the staircase. I was lucky on my first visit and had time in the Cabinet of Curiosities on my own. No chance yesterday!

I always think it's so patronising to assume that women love shoes and chocolate, Sue! The upper level of the exhibititon is about obsessive collectors of rather ordinary High-Street shoes ... to me, it seems more of a mental health issue!

I've never been there, Toffeeapple - but I noticed that they had loaned some of the more interesting shoes yesterday.

Don't miss the McQueen, Katharine; it's an experience! The shoes and the summer exhibition don't matter. I haven't seen the Kennard. Did you see that amazing Don McCullin exhibition at the IWM a few years ago?

kristina said...

Oh what a shame. I'm not a shoe person either, but I was really looking forward to this exhibition as I'd enjoyed the 2009 hat exhibition so much. Think I may give it a miss now. Would have liked to see Lady Gaga in person though--shame she wasn't wearing the hat! I did like the more spacious layout of the Summer Exhibition this year, but didn't see a single work I would have taken home with me. x

mary said...

I loved the hat exhibition, Kristina - don't think this is in the same league even allowing for us not being mad about shoes! I also liked having less clcutter at the RA, but you're right, there was nothing I wanted to take home. Even long-established artists I like - Elizabeth Blackadder, Leonard McComb - seemed to have gone off the boil.Or maybe they're just getting old.

Anonymous said...

M Craig-Martin v v overrated in my humble opinion, his work is just a pastiche or even rip off of poor Patrick Caulfield ( I once met Caulfield at a very boozy d party in Hampstead, he was fun & un-pretentious, unlike M C-M)
Have the RA ditched the small otagonal(?) room with all the miniatures and small works, which usually sell out straight away?
Best, from a crabby Herts

mary said...

Yes, that's gone; at least, there's still a few smaller works but not jam-packed the way they used to be. Some of them are truly awful: the portrait of Grayson Perry by Una Stubbs - unfortunately, he looks the image of Stubbs herself - is possibly the worst daub you have ever seen outside a beginners' evening class end-of-term show. Only £400, for any star-struck geriatric who remembers Una Stubbs! I completely agree with you about M C-M's work; he doesn't come within a whisker of Patrick Caulfield! I remember speaking with Caulfield once, many years ago when I was much younger and shyer and rather in awe of a famous artist - and he was lovely, exactly as you describe him, fun and unpretentious.