Abu Dhabi is showcasing the best of Italian know-how with a footwear exhibition by some of the most famous brands in the world. Prada, Versace, Ferragamo and Pucci are some of the names on show at the city's Italian Cultural Institute and their sculptural shoes highlight the creativity and technical mastery behind the “Made In Italy” label.
Called Italian Shoe Design Symphony, the exhibition runs until Friday and is curated by Elisabetta Pisu. It offers viewers a chance to see the groundbreaking work of Sergio Rossi, Rene Caovilla and Diego Dolcini, as well as the emerging names of Francesca Bellavita and Alfredo Piferi, which mixes ultra femininity with vegan sustainability. Working to a motto of “vegan shoes made divine", Piferi shoes have a distinctive curved heel and a removable “sockette” frill around the ankle.
From Emilio Pucci, there is an extravagant platform sandal, with pop art overtones, which comes with an elevated, pointed toe and a fringe around the ankle.
Elsewhere, Salvatore Ferragamo — who found fame creating footwear for Hollywood stars — is represented with the colourful platform sandal he designed for Judy Garland in 1938. Made from layers of brightly coloured suede with gold patent straps, it introduces lightweight cork into the footwear industry — and looks as fresh today as when it was unveiled.
Curator Pisu says: “Shoes have constantly evolved over the centuries. The toe box has changed becoming rounded, thin or square. The heel, too, has changed, becoming high or low, large or spool-shaped, playing a fundamental role in the architecture of the shoe.”
With a focus on the heel, Moschino shows a shoe made in red leather and covered in golden curlicues, with a heel made entirely from swirling metal, while at the other end of the design scale, Haus of Honey offers a shoe in bulbous pink rubber. A Mary Jane style — with a T bar and ankle strap — the classic shape has been reimagined with an inflated sole to echo manga and cartoons.
“Shoes are bearers of social and cultural values, accessories that reveal the wearer’s personality, status and identity,” Pisu says.
With a total of 28 pairs of shoes on display, the free-to-attend exhibition is at the Italian Cultural Institute on Al Qasbah Street in Al Bateen, Abu Dhabi.
Open daily from 9am to 2pm until Friday