Inside FIT's New Shoe Porn Exhibit

The latest exhibition to take up residency at NYC's The Museum at FIT is Shoe Obsession, featuring over 150 pieces of contemporary footwear, which also made their way into an accompanying book due out in April. Designers featured include icons like Manolo Blahnik and Christian Louboutins and relative newcomers like Charlotte Olympia.
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The latest exhibition to take up residency at NYC's The Museum at FIT is Shoe Obsession, featuring over 150 pieces of contemporary footwear, which also made their way into an accompanying book due out in April. Designers featured include icons like Manolo Blahnik and Christian Louboutins and relative newcomers like Charlotte Olympia.
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The latest exhibition to take up residency at NYC's The Museum at FIT is Shoe Obsession, featuring over 150 pieces of contemporary footwear, which also made their way into an accompanying book due out in April. Designers featured include icons like Manolo Blahnik and Christian Louboutin and relative newcomers like Charlotte Olympia.

But why do an exhibition of 21st century shoes now? Because people are obsessed. The exhibition comes at a time when shoe departments are bigger than ever and heel height is at an all time high. And according to Valerie Steele, museum curator and fashion historian, American women own twice as many shoes on average than they did ten years ago. "We realized that we were in an era of unprecedented shoe obsession," she told us over email. Steele believes that shoes have taken over handbags as the new "it" accessory, simply because "shoes are more fun than bags."

As is the case with handbags, coveted "It" styles are just about as likely to come from a more nouveau designer like Alexander Wang as they are from an established label like Chanel. In turn, the exhibition features up-and-coming talents like Charlotte Olympia, Nicolas Kirkwood, Bruno Frisoni, and Aperlai--all of whom Steele believes are designing iconic shoes that will be memorable for years to come.

She worked with designers themselves, as well as the people in charge of their archives, and even a few personal shoe collectors, like Daphne Guinness, to cull the exhibit's inventory. Her personal favorites include the Vivier Eyelash pump, the Louboutin fetish ballet shoe, and the Prada flame shoe (all of which you can see in a gallery below).

Basically, it's heaven on earth for the shoe-obsessed. And lucky for those who can't make it to NYC to see it IRL, or just want to immortalize the shoe porn, Shoe Obsession the book is due out April 1 and will include pre-21st century shoes and shoe art not featured in the exhibition, in addition to tons of contemporary works of footwear art.

For now, click through for some straight-up 21st century shoe porn.