I don’t remember the last time I was in London for longer than two days. Unfortunately, I’m usually just passing through the city on my way to somewhere else. Every single time I find myself leaving reluctantly with a long list of things I didn’t have time to do and friends I didn’t have time to see. And every time I promise myself that next time I’m going to plan out my travel schedule more efficiently so that I can give London the attention it deserves.
But this trip, yet again, I could only stay for 36 hours. Of course. Still, even a minute in London is worthwhile. And I had a whole morning for the cool new shoe exhibit at the V&A.
Shoes: Pleasure and Pain (V&A 13 June 2015 – 31 January 2016, curated by Helen Persson) presents about 250 examples of “extremes of footwear from around the globe” and examines the reasons why we choose to wear ridiculous things on our feet. The exhibit includes everything from 1970s Go-Go Boots to bright Sophia Webster heels, as well as an impressive variety of shoes from the 18th and 19th centuries.
I enjoyed all the modern footwear (the active wear industry is doing crazy things with performance footwear technology), but in my opinion, the historical shoes stole the show. There was a single men’s dancing slipper from the Tudor period and a pair of the most adorable little leather slippers, dated to c. 300 Ancient Egypt. The slippers were decorated with gold leaf and somehow totally still in style.
It's exciting because so few actual shoes from the 17th century and prior have survived until today. Usually the only way to see historical shoes is to look at contemporary portrait art. After all, even the most prized pair of shoes takes a beating. They're danced in and stood on and sweated in all day, and when they wear out, we tend not to keep them.
I also had time to run into Harrods for high tea, where I sketched this little "Harrods Medley".