Fashionable curiosities: extreme footwear as wearable fantasies

Catalani, Anna (2015) Fashionable curiosities: extreme footwear as wearable fantasies. Fashion Theory: the Journal of Dress, Body and Culture, 19 (5). pp. 565-582. ISSN 1362-704X

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This paper considers an aspect of the material culture fashion, focusing on shoes. Like clothes, shoes are used every day: they are essential objects that primarily allow people to perform daily and socially accepted activities, walk comfortably and adorn the body in a fashionable way. Furthermore, shoes are associated with the idea of individuality and can be highly practical or decorative, depending on their design and fashion style.

With regard to their style, one phenomenon emerging in high fashion is that of the “impossible-to-wear shoes”: exhibitions and fashion shows staging designers’ bizarre shoes are becoming more frequent. During these shows, the spectators are presented with an unusual variety of footwear (e.g. heelless shoes; shoes without soles; fish-shaped shoes). These shoes are not made to fit the individual. On the contrary, their shape and forms are imposed on the individuals.

This paper explores the extreme, impossible-to-wear shoes and considers the visual statements they make about contemporary society, women and femininity. I will argue that impossible-to-wear shoes are puzzling yet charming objects, epitomizing a spectacle-centered society: they are part of unexpected and personal performances, which blend the boundaries of fashion and art and allow the wearers to shift from an ordinary “self” to the extraordinary “other”.

Keywords:Identity, Material Culture, Extreme Footwear;, Fashion, NotOAChecked
Subjects:W Creative Arts and Design > W213 Visual Communication
W Creative Arts and Design > W230 Clothing/Fashion Design
L Social studies > L320 Gender studies
Divisions:College of Arts > School of Architecture & Design > School of Architecture & Design (Architecture)
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ID Code:16170
Deposited On:03 Dec 2014 15:30

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