Intimate apparel becomes a form of wearable artAs some fashion critics claim, eyes may be the windows of the soul, but shoes have always been the gateway to the psyche.
Holly Brubach, a former fashion writer for The New Yorker magazine, has said: “A pair of new shoes might not cure a broken heart or soothe a tension headache but they will relieve the symptoms and chase away the blues.”
But shoes, as well as other articles of clothing, can also be works of art. At least that’s according to a local exhibit of shoes and bras, titled “The World’s Best Brassiere and Shoe Art,” at Topaz Hall in the Hyundai Department Store in Mokdong, western Seoul, which brings together work by artists and designers such as Jean Paul Gaultier and Yves Saint Laurent.
The exhibit, a grand display of wearable and non-wearable art, looks into the world of sexual fetishism and hidden meanings of the female body, featuring ideas that are filled with wacky humor that openly play on sexual puns.
One of the most interesting aspects of the show is how artists and designers create associations between the female body and the random objects of life.
Italian designer Karim Azai displays a sandal made out of a bronze that was cast in the shape of a flatfish, while boots appear in the shape of the Tower of Pisa. The bras on display include shapes ranging from a water faucet to car headlights, darts and Venetian gondolas.
Others have specifically erotic connotations.
“Slave of Love” by Elio Pedaro, for example, has a bra cup in the shape of a man’s hand that is shackled in an iron chain. “Don’t Touch Me” by Michael Nalini has needles sticking out of the bra cups.
More explicitly, an eccentric design by Lucia Dote shows a bra in which two plastic picture frames containing Pope John Paul II’s photograph and decorated with Christmas lights have been attached to the bra cups. The lights are turned on when the frames are plugged into an electric outlet.
Some of the works in the exhibit feature edgier designs. In “Antaeus,” Samuela Mazza presents a snakeskin shoe whose stilletto heel is in the shape of a man. “Leather is a Product of Murder,” a collaborative work by two Italian designers, shows a shoe sprouting the miniature chopped body parts of a cow splashing blood out of the skin, a critical reference to animal slaughter.
Certain motifs repeatedly come up in the exhibit, such as the linking of snakes and food with bras.
In “Aida on Stage,” Italian designer Franco Jepilleli displays a bra made out of cobra heads. The image reappears in “Temptation of Eve” by Elsilia Garlioli, in which the bra cups are surrounded by snakes and apples, in a biblical reference.
For this exhibit, which reveals the most intimate of women’s attire, Hyundai Department Store, which organized the show, spent a considerable sum of money. The shoes in the exhibit are worth 2 billion won ($2 million), averaging about 5 million won each.
The most expensive work in the exhibit is a shoe by Charles Jourdan decorated with the reproduction of a Picasso drawing; it costs 1 million euros.
For those who are interested, most of the works are for sale. The purchased items will be delivered to the clients after the exhibition’s national tour ends in mid-June.
by Park Soo-mee
“The World’s Best Brassiere and Shoe Art” continues at Topaz Hall, a gallery in the Hyundai Department Store in Mokdong, through Sunday. From Wednesday to June 7, the exhibit travels to the Hyundai store in the COEX in southern Seoul. For more information, call 02-2163-2233.