Shoe swoon

I have it on good authority that many women swoon* as they look at a pair of stilettos.

I’ve never understood this as all I see is pain, rounded shoulders, hunched over backs, clunky, clompy, clumsy walking styles to keep from toppling and a reminder of having broken my leg in three places and not walking for five months!

I absolutely adore boots, and perhaps I have more pairs than I should, but they don’t make me swoon.

So when I had the chance to visit the Powerhouse Museum’s Recollect: Shoes exhibition I surprised myself by doing a bit of swooning myself. I have always loved shoes from the early twentieth century but was surprised at how much I was moved by them (and some great reproductions) and the involuntary physical reaction I experienced.

And although there were tiny shoes from the late eighteenth century that were amazing to behold and some contemporary shoes that certainly wowed me, no other shoes provoked the same physical reaction, this momentary feeling of being emotionally overwhelmed. Finally I understood this shoe swooning thing!

Here are some of my favourite pairs of shoes, both contemporary and vintage, and a link to the exhibition which is on until mid July 2015.

* Origin of swoon: the verb from swownen ‘fainting’, the noun from aswoune ‘in a faint’, both from Old English geswōgen ‘overcome’. Swooning is caused by endorphins and peptides functioning as neurotransmitters to exert physiological effects. They can have a similar result as opiates in causing a feeling of wellbeing.