Tuesday, 28 September 2010


I walked through Selfridges the other day, picking up some essentials, as you do…(ok, so I was looking for a loo, but don’t tell anyone) and I wandered into a pleasant surprise. No, it wasn’t the spangly, jingly Christmas department which has might I add been open since August! No, it was much more exciting than fluro-pink reindeer.

In an enticingly darkened room filled with rows of display cases there lies an exhibition of shoes. Not just any shoes either; the whole room is dedicated to a surprisingly extensive collection of Vivienne Westwood pieces. Not bad for a free show!

I have to admit- I was excited. I’m definitely a shoe girl, not a bag girl, and Vivienne Westwood is one of the most inspiring designers around. The Selfridges show really is a potted history of her work; her major catwalk themes are clearly visible through the display, as is the obvious fascination with sex and fetishism.
The selection is wide-ranging with shoes from the early 80’s alongside some from the current season’s collection. And they aren’t just samples, gracefully preserved; it’s clear that many of the pairs on display have been well loved, some of them worn into holes!

With so many beautiful examples, it was difficult to have favourites but some of the most exciting had to be the ‘Super-Elevated’ range. The ‘Super-Elevated Gillie’, made famous by Naomi Campbell’s catwalk tumble in 1993, was amazing though perhaps not for everyday wear. More comfortable would be the Pirate Boots which seem to make an appearance nearly every season. They have become a classic, being seen on Kate Moss (of course), Sienna Miller and even Miley Cyrus it seems. The soft leather version on show in Selfridges looked particularly comfy, even with their 6cm heel. Alas, this is not spoken from experience and I still remain an envious onlooker.

Also high up on my wish list are Westwood’s vegan shoes made in collaboration with Melissa. The rubbery texture looks unusual, probably incredibly practical and the range includes heels, flats and even teeny weeny kids’ sandals. My favourites had to be the delicious looking, jelly coloured courts, especially the ones with a cherry on top! With price tags in the low hundreds rather than thousands, they’re maybe more achievable than the Gillies. One day…

The whole exhibition is fascinating and there is just the right amount of printed info to leave you satisfied. I was impressed that there was such a wide range, particularly as it included some very…unusual pieces. What with this insight into an amazing British designer’s work and the newly opened shoe galleries, Selfridges is quite the foot fetishist’s fantasy right now. Somehow, I think VW would approve.

Siobhan Morrin

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