Shoes: Anatomy, Identity, Magic

Shoes: Anatomy, Identity, Magic

Fashion | November 5, 2022 |

Shoes Magic 001
Image courtesy of ©The Museum at FIT

Shoes: Anatomy, Identity, Magic
The Museum at FIT
September 01 – December 31, 2022

The Museum at FIT presents Shoes: Anatomy, Identity, Magic, an innovative exhibition that explores our physical, social, and psychological relationship with footwear. Curated by Dr. Valerie Steele, MFIT director and chief curator, and Colleen Hill, curator of costume and accessories, the exhibition features more than 300 of the 5,000 pairs of shoes, boots, sandals, and sneakers in the museum’s permanent collection, aka “the closet.”

Shoes Magic 002
Image courtesy of ©The Museum at FIT

“The ‘embodied turn’ in fashion studies has brought renewed attention to the intimate relationship between body, dress, and sense of self,” explains Steele. “We are inviting visitors to ask themselves, Shoe are you? Hence our three, somewhat mysterious-sounding themes of anatomy, identity, and magic.”

The theme of anatomy emphasizes how few shoes are shaped like feet. We stand and move differently when we wear, say, sneakers rather than stilettos. Peep-toe shoes and thigh-high boots also draw attention to different parts of our anatomy.

Shoes Magic 003
Image courtesy of ©The Museum at FIT

The theme of identity emphasizes how different shoe styles and brands are thought to express important information about our age, gender, social status, sexuality, and taste. Gucci sneakers send one message about the wearer, Dr. Martens boots another. Shoes are arranged in pairs for visitors to compare and contrast.

The theme of magic emphasizes how we may unconsciously believe that the right pair of shoes will change our lives. Cinderella’s glass slippers captured the attention of a prince. Because professional athletes often wear sneakers, we may decide to buy a pair of Nike Air Jordans, hoping, like Lil’ Bow Wow in the film Like Mike, that they will magically enhance our physical prowess.

Shoes Magic 006
Image courtesy of ©The Museum at FIT

The exhibition begins with baby shoes to illustrate how shoes accompany us through the journey of life. This is followed in the introductory gallery by a chronology of shoes and a viewing booth that features clips from films and television shows that explore the symbolism of shoes in popular culture. The themes of anatomy, identity, and magic are then explored in the Main Gallery, culminating in the facsimile of a shoe shop displaying high-fashion shoes, many of which are red. “Red shoes can represent wealth, status, danger, and sex appeal, depending on the context,” explains Hill. Shoes are often “objects of desire,” Steele says, and the shoe shop symbolizes the “power and allure of shoes.”

Shoes Magic 004
Image courtesy of ©The Museum at FIT

The exhibition will be accompanied by a lavishly illustrated book, Shoes: The Collection of The Museum at FIT, edited by Valerie Steele and Colleen Hill, with a preface by Daphne Guinness, published by Taschen. The luxury edition will be available in September 2022.


Shoes Magic 008
Image courtesy of ©The Museum at FIT
Shoes Magic 009
Image courtesy of ©The Museum at FIT
Shoes Magic 010
Image courtesy of ©The Museum at FIT
Shoes Magic 007
Image courtesy of ©The Museum at FIT
Shoes Magic 005
Image courtesy of ©The Museum at FIT

Are you an artist, architect, designer? Would you like to be featured on ITSLIQUID platform? Send an e-mail to or fill the form below



    Events | March 24, 2023

    ITSLIQUID Group is pleased to announce the WINNERS of the ITSLIQUID International Contest - 13th Edition. The contest is born to promote contemporary art, photography, architecture, design, and fashion through all ITSLIQUID Platform sharing tools (press releases, mailing list with more than 250.000 subscribers, social media networks, international contemporary art, architecture, and design events and exhibitions). Read more


    Fashion | March 22, 2023

    Under the patronage of the National Chamber of Italian Fashion, the first exhibition in Italy dedicated to Ossie Clark and Celia Birtwell arrives in Milan at the Fondazione Sozzani. “Mr & Mrs Clark” chronicles the journey of the two creatives and explores the genius of Celia’s design, which developed prints inspired by nature and avant-garde art, and of Ossie’s talent, whose mastery of cutting and pattern-making brought sensual and feminine clothes to life. Read more

    Karl Lagerfeld: A Line of…

    Fashion | March 20, 2023

    With approximately 150 works, Karl Lagerfeld: A Line of Beauty will explore the designer's stylistic language through the aesthetic themes that recurred across his 65-year career. (NEW YORK, September 30, 2022) Read more


    Design | March 19, 2023

    "The future doesn’t exist. The only thing that exists is now and our memory of what happened in the past. But because we invented the idea of a future, we’re the only animal that realized we can affect the future by what we do today." - David Suzuki. Read more

    Sign up for our Newsletter.

    Enter your email to receive our latest updates!