Harvard College Library

These Shoes Were Made for ... Walking? Explores Foot Fashions Across Cultures and Ages

The Turkish slipper, with a long pointed toe, was brought to Europe from the East in the 12th century. The shoe was associated with status and only kings could wear shoes with toes of two feet or more.

January 27, 2003 - From the sensible foot bag, circa 8000 B.C., to the high heels of Fifth Avenue, the exhibition These Shoes Were Made for… Walking? explores fashion and function in footwear across cultures and ages. Opening at Tozzer Library February 7, the exhibit draws on the ethnographic collections of the Peabody Museum and showcases over 60 pairs of boots, sandals, shoes, and slippers.

For most of history, shoe design has been driven by specialized functions, such as skating and climbing, as well as extreme environments, such as snow and mud. But in addition, fashion, wealth, and social status have always been an influence, pushing shoes to the limit with no accompanying improvement in fit or function. This has created shoes that tower to impossible heights and those that shrink the foot to impossible sizes. The exhibition includes examples of the everyday footwear of nomads and priests, as well as high fashion dating from the 12th century and beyond.

An opening reception will be held Thursday, February 6, from 5 pm to 7 pm, at the Tozzer Library Gallery. The reception is free of charge and open to the public. Guests should enter through the Peabody Museum located next to Tozzer.


This story appears courtesy of the Harvard College Library Communications Office
Copyright © 2004 President and Fellows of Harvard College