Tag Archive | ManoloBlahnik

A birthday washout

July saw my birthday come around again – they are coming around far too quickly lately for my liking. However, not one to miss an opportunity to celebrate, I arranged numerous events as has become customary.

The first of these was a family BBQ. Now it seems you only need to think about a BBQ in this country and it rains. The BBQ had just heated up when the heavens opened. It wasn’t just a shower either, it was torrential so plan b had to come into play and the burgers went in the oven. It was nice to have the family around to celebrate though and my sister in law made a fantastic cake and got me the best present – a framed drawing of my Manolo Blahnik wedding shoes.



Sex and the City cupcakes that I made

My actual birthday started fabulously, with Kelly Jones of Stereophonics fame guest staring on the radio, with the first play of their new single, All in one Night. I can’t believe I have been a fan for the last 18 years. They are still just as fab as they were then.

I met my Mum in London and we went up the Sky Garden. It wasn’t long before the rain clouds moved in and they closed the outside viewing platform. Thankfully they eventually opened it again. The view was amazing, although it was probably one of the most expensive glasses of prosecco I had ever had. We then went for lunch and browsed the shops on Oxford Street before my husband met us later in the day.


T-shirt Topshop, Skirt Asos, ballerina pumps from Italy and heart bag by Floozie



We then headed to an open air cinema screening in association with Stylist magazine and M&S. Picking up the free Stylist magazine on a Wednesday is the highlight of my working week and it seemed like it was meant to be when they had one of these screenings on my birthday and showing Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, very apt as I went to Kefalonia this year.  It was an absolute bargain of an event, with tickets only costing £20. That included an M&S bbq, three free drinks, popcorn and a goodie bag which of course included the famous Percy Pigs! It was a wonderful evening until it started to rain and then it really rained. They handed out ponchos and we managed to get an umbrella up but it wasn’t pleasant. Many people left but I was determined to see the end of the film. By the time we got up to leave it felt much like I had wet myself as the water had run down my back and into the deckchair!


The following day I went for a picnic in the park with two of my best friends and you’ve guessed it – it rained again, not long after we arrived.


Celebration muffin

Surely I would have better luck with my final planned celebration? My husband and I headed up town for cocktails in the city with friends. Luck was definitely not on my side as yet again it tipped it down. I wore flip flops so ended up with very muddy feet. It was a fun afternoon none the less. It’s the second time I have attended this event and I highly recommend it.  Some of London’s best cocktail bars have pop ups and there is music and fun games to take part in, including giant draughts, coconut shy and darts.  The welcome drink was called The Cointreau Fizz which consisted of Cointreau, lime, soda and pomegranate and was served in a cute bottle.


T-shirt Topshop



Channelling art deco at Fontaine’s whilst enjoying Moet


Photo booth at Fontaine’s

So my birthday was what you might call a wash out and as the song says ‘it’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to!’ I did feel the love though; everyone was very generous and thoughtful. It just goes to show that a summer birthday doesn’t guarantee good weather, perhaps next year I should plan indoor celebrations!


Presents including iconic coat from Zara

‘Do not think of shoes but of masterpieces’ Diana Vreeland, Editor in Chief US Vogue

If ever there was a city that was made for me it’s Milan, What’s not to like? A fashion capital, in a country where they are connoisseurs of coffee, creators of prosecco and masters of food.

Our trip in March was somewhat a last minute affair and to be completely honest only came about when I heard that Manolo Blahnik was holding an exhibition there. I managed to convince my husband that this was just something I had to go to being that he is my favourite shoe designer of all time.


Dress by Sugarhill Boutique, Converse shoes and bag from New Look

The exhibition, held in Palazzo Morando, certainly didn’t disappoint. Manolo is an absolute genius. His design drawings are works of art in their own right and the shoes are just stunning. His imagination is infinite and he takes inspiration from people, nature, travel, artists and architecture. Born in 1942 in the Canary Islands to a Spanish mother and Czech father, his journey into shoe design happened by accident. He went to art school in Paris, before moving to London in the late 1960’s. The feet of Greek sculptures had always fascinated him and then in 1971 he met the editor in chief of American Vogue and as she perused his portfolio, she was taken by his shoe drawings and she told him to ‘Stick to extremities and make shoes’. He then learnt his trade through observations of factories in England and Italy and actually received no formal training in shoe making. He did some collaborative work before opening his first store in London in 1973. Since then his career has gone from strength to strength and he has won numerous awards and received a CBE from the Queen.




I first fell in love with his designs following my obsession with Sex and the City, where the main character, Carrie has an addiction to his footwear. I was married in the same blue satin Manolo’s as Carrie married Big in and they remain one of my most treasured possessions.

Hangisi by Manolo Blahnik

The collection on display takes you on a journey through Manolo’s imagination with over 80 original drawings and 52 shoes. Each shoe is crafted with such attention to detail and he sees them like characters in a story, giving each a proper name. Some of the embellishments are absolutely stunning as are the range of different materials utilised by Manolo.





Following the visit to the exhibition it was time for a cappuccino and a flick through the trusted Lonely Planet guidebook.


We then took the opportunity to get some exercise and explore a pretty local park, giardini pubblici, before admiring the fantastically alluring designer shop window displays in the Quadrilatero d’Oro or golden quarter. There was time for a quick espresso stop at a very glam espresso bar, Sant’Ambroeus that has an impressive chandelier and given the time of year some beautifully wrapped Easter Eggs.




We grabbed a quick bite to eat before joining our tour party at the Castello Sforzesco. This 15th century fortress was the home of the Sforza dynasty that ruled Milan during the Renaissance. Following a long walk around with what felt like an intense history lesson, we finally got to see what we had booked the tour for – Leonardo Da Vinci the Last Supper painting. It is an amazing sight and it is hard to believe it was painted in the 15th century. We refuelled with a delicious Italian icecream before jumping on one of their vintage trams.




The second day we walked around the awe inspiring Domino, a gothic cathedral of elaborate marble construction with no less than 135 spires.   The nearby shopping arcade, Galleria Vittorio Emanuelle II is worth a look whilst you are in the vicinity. More than just a shopping arcade, the neoclassical building is constructed of iron and glass and shaped like a cross. Even if you hate shopping it is well worth popping inside to admire the incredible architecture. It was then time for a refreshing cosmopolitan on the roof terrace of Aperol, overlooking the magnificent cathedral. The bar is an ode to the 1970’s drink with a huge sculpted orange bar. I then had to nip back to the hotel to put on jeans in order to go and look inside the cathedral, which is just a magnificent inside as out.






Blouse Mango, Skirt with braces Dorothy Perkins, Converse shoes, Socks Oasis, Bag New Look




My cultural brain suitably enriched, my shopping urges were once again calling so we took the opportunity to browse a couple of vintage shops before regrouping with a latte.

That evening we visited the Nottingham Forest cocktail bar. You have to get there prior to opening and queue as it is so small, but it was so worth the wait. The cocktails are just so varied and imaginative.  Some even use liquid nitrogen and come smoking. I of course had to order the Sex and the City. The glass of cosmopolitan was brought to me in a plastic stiletto and there was a surprise flavoured free gift from Samantha – I’ll let you guess what that might have been!


The final day we booked a classic Fiat 500 tour of the city. A car so iconic to Italy was the only choice for me. The sun shone brightly and our enthusiastic guide and driver showed us all the key sights of the city in just over an hour and a half. It is strange as I ended up owning a Fiat 500 by chance but I now love them almost as much as I love VW Beetles – I only said almost!


Jeans Oasis, Converse shoes, T-shirt Kiss Kiss Heart and bag Biba

We then ventured down to Navigli, the canal district where I had a delicious pizza and even got my husband to sample one as they offer a cheese free pizza. Of course there was an ulterior motive for me visiting this area. Mentioned in the guidebook was a shoe shop called Mauro Leone – for fashionistas on a budget. I bought a gorgeous pair of red patent leather ballet pumps and I can honestly say they are the most comfortable shoes I have ever bought.



At the airport on the way home, I bought another souvenir of my trip – a Pandora charm shaped as a stiletto.



It was a truly amazing trip and I remain ever grateful to my long-suffering husband for agreeing to go just for a shoe exhibition. I absolutely loved Milan and suggest it is a right of passage for any fashionista.


Walking in their Shoes

As an avid shoe lover, I have long admired the great designs of Manolo Blahnik, Louboutin, Jimmy Choo and Sophia Webster, to name but a few.  For one day only, thanks to a wonderfully thoughtful Christmas gift from my husband, I got to experience what it’s like to be that designer, on the amazing ‘become a shoe design icon’ course, run by ‘I Can Make Shoes’.

It was a wet Sunday when I made my way by train over to trendy East London – Bethnal Green and found The Pill Box where the courses are run; but nothing was going to dampen my enthusiasm.


The arty Pill Box

It was a nice small class of 3 which made for a great learning environment.  Our teacher Kiren was inspiring when she shared how she too had attended this course a few years back and now not only teaches but also is designing and making her own collection of shoes.

The class began with an introduction to the anatomy of a shoe.  Before being able to design a shoe, it is important to understand all the components that make one up as this can have an influence on the art of the possible.

It can be quite daunting to be faced with a blank sheet of paper and just a template of a foot to design around, but we were given various books to get the creative juices flowing.  I’m sure it will come as no surprise to most of you that my favourite of these was ‘Manolo’s New Shoes’.

Manolo book

Manolo uses watercolours, pencils and china ink to create his drawings which are works of art in their own right.  Some are sketches and design concepts whereas others are created after the shoe has been made as a kind of portrait of the shoe.  I would love to own one of his original drawings and came so close when I signed up for the launch of his wedding collection event where each attendee would receive a drawing but alas I was too late and the event was already full.

No one can fail to be inspired by his work and further books showed me the kinds of sources of inspiration designers use.  I was particularly taken by the use of travel to inspire and from that began to look through photos of my own travels on my phone. My creativity was sparked by a photo I had taken at Parc Guell in Barcelona.


The tower turned upside down was the basis for the heel on my peep toe sandal which would be blue and white woven leather, with a blue ribbon to fasten it around the ankle.  I also designed a second shoe based around some of my favourite things; it was a black court shoe with pink ribbons that laced up the ankle.  On the front was a butterfly and the heel was designed like a champagne flute.  I could have happily continued designing all day but the next step was making a template which would be used to cut out the leather.

A last in the shoe size required is used to create this template.  A last is like a mould made of wood or hard plastic which has a shape similar to a human foot.  There are different lasts depending on the type of shoe being made i.e. flat shoe, heeled shoe, boot etc.

There are various ways of making the template which can then be used to cut the leather.  The technique we were shown involved using masking tape.  The strips of tape are applied in a certain order until the entire last is covered.




The next step is then to transfer the 2D design onto the last thus making it 3D and ensuring that each section is suitable comfort wise in relation to the foot.  We all made a template for a simple court shoe as that forms the base of many high heels so is then a transferable skill.

Once the shoe is marked out, including the side seam as courts are rarely made in one piece; a craft knife is then used to cut round the lines.  Excess tape is then removed leaving just the template design which can then also be carefully peeled off the last.


The template is then laid flat on a plain sheet of paper and stuck down.  In order to make it flat, some little snips are required around the vamp (piece that covers the toes or the front part of the shoe) and the side seam.  It is important to then write the last reference and the size on your template for future reference.



A line is then drawn around the masking tape to allow a 2.5cm lasting allowance which is the leather that will fold under the last and be joined to the inner-sole board and a 0.5cm folding allowance for the seam on the topline of the shoe as well as at the side seam where the two sides are joined.


This was as far as we went on this course but the next step in the shoe making process would be to cut out the template around the pencil lines, lay it on the leather and then cut the leather.


This has definitely made me want to go on to learn more and I would love to make my Parc Guell sandals – depicted on the left in my drawings above.

I highly recommend this course to any shoe fanatic!  Many shoes are now mass-produced but the best ones are still hand-made and when you see the amount of work that goes into the process, it is no surprise that hand-made shoes command top dollar!





En Vogue

Vogue magazine takes its name from the French phrase ‘en vogue’, meaning ‘in fashion/style’.  Vogue started life in 1892 in USA as a weekly newspaper with the intended audience being the American aristocracy; America had glamour and showmanship but wanted to emulate Britain’s class and style.  The title may have been a consequence of the fact that during that time, both the USA and Britain looked to Paris for their fashion guidance.  Condé Nast bought Vogue in 1905 and changed it to a bi-weekly publication. It was as late as 1973 that it became a monthly publication.

The British edition of Vogue was first published in autumn 1916, so celebrates 100 years this year.  To mark the centenary, the National Portrait Gallery London has organised an exhibition entitled ‘Vogue 100: A Century of Style’ which runs from 11th February – 22nd May 2016.  The exhibition consists of some 280 prints from the Conde Nast archive and international collections.  The show is a who’s who of photographers, models and celebrities over the last century.  There have been over 1500 issues of Vogue to date and still it remains the authority on fashion.

Claudia Schiffer - Herb Ritts resized.jpg

Claudia Schiffer in Paris by Herb Ritts, 1989 ©Herb Ritts Foundation/Trunk Archive

For the exhibition I wore a navy long sleeve butterfly dress from Asos with a leather biker jacket from New Look to contrast with the girly butterflies and give the outfit an edge.  My shoes were some Mary Jane black patent shoes which I got in the Oasis sale and I absolutely adore the gold detail on the heels.  To match the shoes I accessorised with a beautiful gold and black box clutch from Aldo.  I had been admiring a very similar one from Biba but this one was a great find at half the price.  In my hair I had a navy suede alice band, the inspiration for which came from Chanel’s autumn/winter 2015 catwalk where the black ribbon was worn by their models. Ribbon always slides out of my hair so the alice band is a great alternative to achieve the same look. I also sported this trend in Hong Kong with a black leather alice band see previous blog.



BIBA version of clutch

Spot the difference?


black patent shoes

The exhibition was laid out with a room for each decade from the magazine’s birth up to the current day.  Many original images were used – with rips and scribbles to prove it.  The earliest surviving vogue print was one of an heiress to a Philadelphia banking fortune which featured in the third issue. There was also a long room which had laid out a copy of an issue from each year of Vogue’s production along with iconic images of models over the years displayed on the walls.  Vogue magazine has evolved over the decades and has seen some of the greatest defining fashion eras; the roaring 20’s, swinging 60’s and punk rock to name a few; what Vogue doesn’t know about fashion isn’t worth knowing and it is now considered by many to be “the fashion bible”.  Celebrities are desperate to feature on the cover.  As well as the exhibition being a tribute to fashion over the last century it is also a great overview of the key historical events in Britain with the tribute issue to each of the deaths of George VI, Marilyn Monroe and Princess Diana.  Cecil Beaton who proved to be a great asset to Vogue following his first published photo in 1924, covered the coronation of the Queen in July 1953.

There is somewhat of a lack of imagery from the early war years as in 1942 Vogue recycled the majority of its photographic prints to help the war effort.  Vogue was however vital to the morale of the home front and there were in depth reports about the war, showing a more serious side to Vogue.  The depth of report was not seen again until 1993 when Marie Colvin revisited post war Baghdad.  Post WWII, Norman Parkinson’s photos re-emphasised traditional values and signalled that the nation could once again think of prosperity.


Fashion is Indestructible by Cecil Beaton, 1941 © The Condé Nast Publications Ltd

Early editions of Vogue came with patterns for women to make clothes but as the art of dress making lost its popularity and people had a greater disposable income to use in shops, these disappeared.

In 1953 Vogue revealed a new fashion demographic in the young and developed ‘Young Idea’ pages.  This youth culture strengthened through the 50’s and 60’s and in 1955 Mary Quant and Alexander Plunket opened a boutique in Chelsea aimed specifically at the young, called Green Bazaar.  Mary Quant claims to have launched the mini skirt in the 1960’s, named after her favourite car and later popularised hot pants.  The 1960’s were a classless period.  For Vogue, David Bailey became another prominent photographer at this time which is much attributed to his special relationship to the model Jean Shrimpton.

Vogue is known for its firsts – with 1966 seeing Vogue use the first black cover model.  Vogue’s first colour cover was as early as 1932 by Edward Steichen and Vogue led the field with the finest quality colour pages.  Vogue.co.uk was launched in 1996 and the first digital issue of the magazine was launched for iPad in 2010.  In 1936 there was a shoot called ‘April comes to Paris’, which saw fashions modelled in the streets of Paris rather than in a studio and it was novelty to see clothes in everyday situations.  It’s interesting to see how fashion photography has changed with the advent of airbrushing and Photoshop.  There was a print at the exhibition of a swimsuit shoot in 1930’s and you can clearly see it was shot on a cold day as the model has goose bumps on her legs – something they would never show nowadays.

The magazine featured Christian Dior’s first collection in 1947.  In 1939 there was an interesting spread entitled ‘Where there’s a will, there’s a waist’ showing the love affair Britain had with the corset. August 1994 saw the explosion of the Kate Moss phenomenon – an ordinary girl from Croydon and turned fashion on its head, changing the way we saw beauty and style.

My favourite cover was July 1926, Vogue constellation by Eduardo Benito and I was able to purchase a print of it in the store.

Following a couple of great hours spent immersed in the exhibition – my friend and I decamped to the gallery restaurant that overlooks Trafalgar square.  Despite the rain it was a lovely view of London and we enjoyed afternoon tea with a champagne cocktail each.




The first man to feature on the cover of UK Vogue was Manolo Blahnik in 1974.  Manolo Blahnik opened a new boutique in Burlington Arcade – only the second shop in the UK on 3rd Feb this year. I tried to get to the opening night cocktail evening but unfortunately it was already fully booked.  Would have been great to get a couple of quotes from him directly as my blog is named after him.  I did however visit the new store after the Vogue exhibition and it truly is a little bit of heaven.  I was almost intimidated by the luxury of the store and was anxious that my shoes, wet from the drizzle might mark the soft cream carpet.  I need not have felt anxious however as on entering the store, the staff couldn’t have been more helpful.  A lovely guy in purple Manolo’s showed us around the store. I pointed out my lovely wedding shoes as worn by Carrie in Sex and the City and he asked if I had worn them since.  He thought it hilarious when I replied only in the house and said ‘some people have slippers, you have Manolo’s!’  The store appears to be quite small until you make your way up a winding staircase to the second floor where more delights decorate the Victorian fireplace and shelves.  By far my favourite pair of shoes I saw was the rose bud sandals but at over £900 they are sadly out of my budget.



Manolo rose

It was a fantastic day out and inspired me to start colouring in my Vogue colouring book that I received for Christmas.  2015 saw the rise of the adult colouring book with at least 4 of them appearing in Amazon’s top 20 book sales.  It has been suggested that they can assist with mindfulness and I did find it surprisingly relaxing.


Vogue colouring book, ‘Love’ keyring as seen in first Sex and the City movie and a Yankee candle

Check out the Vogue exhibition whilst you can and they even do a combined ticket so that you can enjoy afternoon tea in the restaurant too.  It makes for a stylish girls day out.  Here’s to the next 100 years of Vogue!

Vogue 100: A Century of Style is at the National Portrait Gallery, London, from 11 February – 22 May 2016, sponsored by Leon Max.

Shoes Pleasure and Pain

On American Independence day, I visited the Victoria and Albert Museum in London with my friend to see the Shoes: Pleasure and Pain exhibition. I had been looking forward to this for weeks as it is certainly an exhibition made for me; my idea of heaven.  


High & Mighty shoot, American Vogue February 1995 (model: Nadja Auermann) Dolce & Gabbana suit, Summer 1995 © Estate of Helmut Newton / Maconochie Photography Image courtesy of Victoria and Albert Museum, London

I’m sure women everywhere can identify with the fine line between pleasure and pain that shoes often occupy. How many times have we worn a fab pair of heels dancing and ended up crippled by the end of the night and sometimes even walked home in bare feet? So why do we do it? Shoes have the power to make us feel differently about ourselves, that’s why.

Status is often implied by the shoes we wear – when we see a flash of a red soled Louboutin – we know the person has not only class but money. History also supports shoes as symbols of status with royalty wearing heels to tower above their subjects and geisha shoes with their huge platforms that elevate the geisha to quite a height so that they were in the eye line of men and above other women.  Talking of platform shoes, on display at the exhibition were the famous Vivienne Westwood blue mock-croc platforms which Naomi Campbell fell over on the catwalk in during a Paris fashion show in 1993.


Installation view of Shoes: Pleasure and Pain 13 June 2015 – 31 January 2016 Christian Louboutin ‘Pigalle’ pump Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Heels make us walk differently – they thrust our hips forward and elongate our legs which is seen as attractive to men, hence shoes often being seen as fetish objects.

An entire outfit can be changed by the choice of shoes – how many times have we borrowed a pair of heels in a dress shop in order to get a true impression of the dress?

Personally I feel that heels make my silhouette appear to be thinner and therefore I feel more self-confident. There is the added bonus that once we reach adulthood our feet don’t change size so they always fit however many chocolates you have eaten! I have often been shopping and resolved to buy nothing, having had my self-confidence shattered by the mirrors in the changing rooms to only then purchase a pair of shoes to cheer myself up.

I felt as though I should wear some nice shoes for the exhibition, which gave me an excuse to purchase a new pair! (Not that I need an excuse). I had read an interview in Look magazine with Kat Maconie, a British shoe designer who launched in 2009, and I was inspired to check out her collection. I purchased these stylish black sandals with chain ankle strap and the must have block heel. I wore them with an embroidered playsuit from Boohoo. I must admit I am a convert to the playsuit trend since purchasing this one. In the past I have found them not to suit my build particularly well but thought I would try again since stars such as Ella Henderson look fab in them without being stick thin. I am so pleased I did as this black one complements my curves and the embroidery is so pretty and unusual. I used my red quilted bag from Fashion Union to complement the red embroidery.


shoe box


The exhibition contains around 250 pairs of shoes and looks at the history of shoes, the basics of making them, the fairy-tale quality of shoes, shoes as tools of seduction as well as our obsession with them and contains a sample of some shoe collectors hoards, as well as many shoes from the museums archives.   There is a pair of Imelda Marcos’s shoes – she infamously had a collection of some three thousand pairs. It has been suggested that her obsession may have been born out of the denial of shoes when she lived in a garage with her ailing mother as a child.   Interestingly the collections were not all of designer shoes and one in particular contained lots of high street labels.

There was a video running shots of shoes from movies and my favourite scene of Big proposing to Carrie with the blue Manolo’s I wore for my wedding was amongst them, although I was disappointed that the shoe itself was not part of the exhibition   There were however a few pairs of Manolo’s there and also a Jimmy Choo shoe which Carrie wore in an episode of Sex and the City. There was also a pair of white stilettos worn by Marilyn Monroe.

My Manolo Blahnik wedding shoes

My Manolo Blahnik wedding shoes


Installation view of Shoes: Pleasure and Pain 13 June 2015 – 31 January 2016 Manolo Blahnik ‘Tendola’ sandal, 2014 Victoria and Albert Museum, London

There is no doubt that shoes have power over our emotions but in fairy tales their magical qualities have been explored. At the exhibition were the red ballet shoe worn in the film, The Red Shoes, released in 1948. In this film a young ballerina joins an established ballet company and is chosen for the lead role in the ballet called The Red Shoes which is based on the Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale first published in 1845 about the red ballet shoes that danced by themselves. In the film the girl is torn between her love of ballet and her romantic love, which when she chooses the man, she dies wearing the red shoes.


Red ballet shoes made for Victoria Page (Moira Shearer) in The Red Shoes (1948), silk satin, braid and leather, England 1948 Freed of London (founded in 1929), Photograph reproduced with the kind permission of Northampton Museums and Art Gallery

Another fairy tale shoe on display was the glass slipper from this year’s Cinderella film – you can read more about this shoe on a previous blog about the Cinderella Exhibition

I thought I knew all there was to know about shoes but I did learn something; the height of Louboutin shoes varies according to the size of the shoe. This keeps the silhouette of the shoe the same and avoids some unwearable angles.

Anyway, enough from me, who better to tell you about the exhibition than the curator herself, Helen who I was lucky enough to be able to put my questions to.

What inspired you to do this particular exhibition?

The idea of this exhibition came about 5 years ago when I came across drawers in one of the V&A stores filled with heavily embroidered Indian shoes with long curly toes made out of rich and colourful materials, embroidery with iridescent green beetle wings, silk, spangles and gold. These were unpractical, beautiful shoes for the Indian elite. I then realised that this was, and is, happening in many other cultures and historical periods such as ancient Egypt China, Renaissance Italy, Manchu China etc… and of course nowadays.

How many pairs of shoes were originally identified to be included and how did you narrow it down?

From the start of this project we always knew we would have around 250 pairs of shoes in the exhibition but choosing the final selection of around 250 pairs of shoes has been one of the most challenging aspects of my job. The V&A holds an extensive footwear collection, both Western and Asian, encompassing over 2000 pairs spanning 3000 years of history. I have also explored several private and public collections worldwide. Choosing the right pair of shoes has not always been easy. I wanted thought to convey a specific message and tell a story, I have consequently chosen shoes that could help me follow the narrative. I also chose pairs and shoes that were beautiful, sculptural and in a good conservative condition.

How long did the exhibition take to pull together?

Full time has been about 2 years but the original idea came about 5 years ago

Do the curators have a favourite shoe?

The favourite shoe changes from day to day – but to be able to include the Cinderella slipper from Kenneth Branagh’s Cinderella movie was quite spectacular!

 What’s the most outrageous shoe on display?

Perhaps the shoes for bound feet from China, as people find this practice particularly gruesome and painful. But the history of foot-binding is incredibly complex, and there is not one story but many as the practice and meanings of foot-binding evolved and changed over time. In the beginning foot-binding was an elite urban fashion, not so different in a way from stiletto-clad westerners, achieving what was culturally conceived to be a sexy walk and to give the impression of small feet. And to be seen as wealthy and belonging to a privileged and exclusive circle.

All shoes have their own story behind them but is there a story you found particularly inspiring and if so what?

A pair of boots from 1943 were made by a local shoe maker in Kensington, London from the client’s old coats (one red leather coat, one ozelot fur coat). During the Second World War, the design of shoes was dictated both by a lack of materials and sensibility about what was appropriate. But these beautifully made boots circumvented wartime rationing. They push the boundaries of the acceptable, with scene-stealing red leather platforms and 10 cm high heels. The boots document the human desire for new and beautiful things, even in the midst of war. They show creativity, innovation and coping in adversity.

The exhibition runs until 31st January 2016 and is a must for all you shoe lovers out there.