The exhibition Footprint: The Tracks of Shoes in Fashion, which opens at Antwerp’s Fashion Museum (MoMu), gathers about 600 pairs of shoes from the 20th and 21st century to map the path towards innovative shoe design.
The exhibition is curated by Dodi Espinosa, and inspired by Belgian retail pioneers Geert Bruloot and his partner Eddy Michiels who have amassed distinct forms of footwear since opening the boutique Coccodrillo in Antwerp in 1983. Under the artistic eye of Dodi a coherent concept and scenography was developed, complete with film shorts and imagery that provide an immersive backdrop. As a result, the Footprint exhibition, complemented by loans from other museums, avoids a product-focused approach.
‘Nowadays, everything has become a product,’ Bruloot explains. ‘There’s an it-bag, there’s an it-shoe, but the human aspect has got lost. We wanted to discover the person behind the shoe.’
Some of the designers exhibited include Tokio Kumagai, the late Japanese designer whose shoes with embroidered eye details can be found in the ‘Surrealism’ and ‘Pop’ section. Benoît Méléard, an experimental French shoe designer that many look to for inspirations, and, Pierre Hardy with his strong graphic designs, as well as, Thierry Mugler whose architectural shoes made waves in the 1980s.
Innovative constructions are highlighted in a Balenciaga Lego heel, but also in Italian designer Dirk Bikkemberg’s famous thick-soled boots with holed heels through which laces are drawn. Simone Rocha and Tabitha Simmons represent modern glamour and elegance at the exhibition.
Unexpectedly featured are Jan Jansen, a Dutch designer who in the sixties worked anonymously for Christian Dior, as well as the feature of atypical designs by Azzedine Alaïa and Manolo Blahnik for their chunky wedges and cowhide ankle boots. In this way Footprint shows shoe design through its innovative path which range from the avant garde to the fetish.
This is not an exhibition about the comfortable shoe. It’s about creativity and it’s about an experience.