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Exhibition Marche et démarche, a history of the shoe

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The musée des arts décoratifs in paris explores the relationship between the body and fashion around the shoe, the walk and gait, with nearly 500 pieces presented, from the middle ages to the present day. an unusual interpretation of this item of clothing, sometimes insignificant and sometimes extraordinary explained by denis bruna. musée des arts décoratifs, 107 rue de rivoli 75001 parisexhibition until 23rd february 2020interview with denis bruna:the idea for this exhibition, marche et démarche, came from a thorough examination of a shoe that belonged to marie antoinette, queen of france, in 1792. it was very small, only 21cm long and no more than 5cm wide. so, the question that i asked myself was how did adults fit into such small shoes. i first realised that the aristocracy in the 18th century, the grand bourgeois in the 19th and early 20th centuries, didn’t walk. walking was only for those who were obliged to walk, the workers, shopkeepers, merchants, and it was necessary for young girls in good education in the 18th century to stay at home. the idea was to convey the walk and gait across different cultures in the world. we look at western europe from the 14th century to the present day, but we also included china, japan, india, africa and north america to understand how we walked and what was the gait depending on each culture and social rank. we can retrace the history of the heel which came from persia. it was notably the persian house riders who had heeled shoes. for them, it was very practical because they could wedge their feet in the stirrups of the horse. the heel arrived in the west at the end of the 16th century. it was quickly adopted by the aristocracy because the heel made them taller confirming their superiority, but it also always caused an unstable walk, so only those who didn’t work could afford to have an unstable gait. we also evoke the abundance of trainers that have become city shoes. today we will choose a shoe based on comfort and elegance but we have very strong links to the past. for example, in french society, it was a good thing to have thin feet. women today certainty don’t bind their feet to make them thin but when we look at even the big distributors of women’s shoes, we notice that eight out of ten have pointed ends, which makes the feet appear slimmer.