Bowes Museum announces ‘Shoes: Pleasure and Pain’ exhibition

Picture by: Lauren Hurley / PA Archive/PA Images

Picture by: Lauren Hurley / PA Archive/PA Images


Last year the Bowes Museum held the ever so popular YSL: Style Is Eternal exhibition, which explored the life of the French designer as well as presenting some of his most famous designs. The exhibition was set to run from July till October 2015, but was extended till November 2015 due to it’s popularity.

Shoes: Pleasure and Pain‘ will arrive in the North East on Saturday June 11 until Sunday October 9, and will be showcased in the museums award winning Fashion and Textiles gallery.

The exhibition, which was organised by the V&A, will display more than 200 pairs of men’s and women’s shoes.

The shoes displayed will be both historic and contemporary, by 70 named designers such as Christian Louboutin, Jimmy Choo, Manolo Blahnik, Dior and Prada, as well as many from the V&A’s unrivalled collection.

Shoes: Pleasure and Pain explores the agony and ecstasy of footwear throughout 2,000 years, and is presented in five sections:

  • Transformation – will present shoes that are the things of myth and legend.
  • Status – will reveal how impractical shoes have been worn to represent privileged and leisurely lifestyles.
  • Seduction – shoes representing an expression of sexual empowerment or a passive source of pleasure.
  • Creation – how they’re constructed, the beautiful craftsmanship, supply and demand.
  • Obsession – the joy and fascination of collecting/owning/wearing.
Picture by: Lauren Hurley / PA Archive/PA Images

Picture by: Lauren Hurley / PA Archive/PA Images

While the exhibition will explore extreme methods of footwear, it will also feature shoes worn by or associated with famous icons such as; Sarah Jessica Parker, David Beckham, The Honorable Daphne Guinness and Kylie Minogue.

Joanna Hashagen, the Museum’s Curator of Fashion and Textiles, said: “As the shoes will be exhibited thematically, not chronologically, each section will be a visual cornucopia of different shapes, styles, materials and colours. They are presented as very beautiful objects, many telling fascinating stories.”

The museum is the only venue in the UK outside of London to stage Shoes: Pleasure and Pain before the exhibition embarks on an international tour to China and the USA.

Tickets are on sale via the Museum’s website at, where there is a direct line on the homepage and exhibitions page. 

Are you as excited for this as we are? What would be your dream pair of shoes?

Tweet us at @Fashion_North!




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