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New exhibition dedicated to footwear in the United States

Jun 30, 2014 United States
New exhibition dedicated to footwear in the United States
Sole Obsession: 100 Years of Women’s Shoes from Kitten Heels to Power Pumps presents a range of dressy footwear, spanning from 1910 to 2010


With around ten pairs of shoes per decade, Sole Obsession spans over each fashion movement through the different decades in the last century and reflects upon the dramatic changes experienced by the women who wore them. This results from the complexity of footwear, as shoes aren't just functional and/ or fashionable, they can tell a lot about history and culture.

For example, the dancing shoes from the 20s are representative of the women’s emancipation that occurred at the time. The following decade, more characterized by hard work day to day activities being performed by women as consequence of the strong social movements taking placing in many countries and of the global conflicts that started at the end of the decade, resulted in more day to day footwear. Also the shoes from the 80s and 90s reflect the social and cultural evolution as footwear from those decades was characterized by the co-existence of strong influences from street wear with pumps and high stilettos. And finally, the 2000s with a mixture of styles, where revival of past trends and innovative designs co-existed.

Over one hundred pairs of shoes from regional museums and private collections will be displayed with examples of women’s cocktail and party apparel from the Museum’s collection.

Historic clothing aficionado Christine Palmer curated the exhibit, calling upon her connections to vintage fashion collectors throughout the region. “Shoes have been a particular passion of mine, as their styles can be powerful, seductive or fanciful, depending upon the era, materials and designer.”

The exhibition Sole Obsession: 100 Years of Women’s Shoes from Kitten Heels to Power Pumps will run from 18th of June to 9th of November at The Key Bank Gallery within the White River Valley Museum and the Mary Olson Farm.

The White River Valley Museum was first conceived by a group of local people who in the 1950’s formed a non-profit corporation, the White River Valley Historical Society, and started a small museum in the town of Thomas, between Kent and Auburn. In the late 1960’s the society had to move from the borrowed Thomas facility, so they raised funds and built a museum building on city of Auburn property, in Les Gove Park. In 1989, as the group was aging and had lost several members, they began to seek out city support to keep the museum alive and well. Much to its credit, the City of Auburn agreed to partner with the Historical Society, and in 1990 a Museum Services Agreement was developed that secured the Museum’s future as an official city entity. Today a 17-member board manages the Museum as a partnership between the White River Valley Historical Society and the City of Auburn.

For more information about the Museum and its current Sole Obsession exhibition please visit the website.

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