The V&A

V&A Exhibition- Shoes: Pleasure and Pain

Christian Louboutin once famously said: “A shoe is not only a design, but it's a part of your body language, the way you walk. The way you're going to move is quite dictated by your shoes.” At The Amazing Blog we could not agree more.  From June this year all the way through to January 2016, the V&A will be home to a very special fashion exhibition exploring the transformative power of extreme footwear, our fascination and obsession with shoes as well as their agonising aspects.

In this exciting exhibition, there is an unrivalled collection of more than 200 pairs of historic and contemporary shoes from around the world. Some are as old as 2000 years and have never been seen before.  The collection includes shoes worn by high profile figures including Marilyn Monroe, Queen Victoria, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kylie Minogue and the Hon Daphne Guinness.  There is footwear for men and women by 70 named designers including Manolo Blahnik, Christian Louboutin, Jimmy Choo and Prada.

Exhibition curator, Helen Persson, said: “Shoes are one of the most telling aspects of dress. Beautiful, sculptural objects, they are also powerful indicators of gender, status, identity, taste and even sexual preference. Our choice in shoes can help project an image of who we want to be.”

In addition, the exhibition reveals the evolution of shoes and how little style, material and shape are so much more symbolic than you realise.  This exhibition is a must for any fashion lover or someone passionate about history.  You can find out more about it here.


Fine Cell Work

As the daughter of a literacy teacher at Huntercombe Prison, the idea of rehabilitating inmates is something frequently touched upon in my household. With unemployment figures at their worst for decades and the job market saturated with middle-class graduates and skilled professionals unable to find work, it’s hardly surprising that many inmates go on to re-offend. And with the stigma of a prison sentence and a frequent lack in qualifications, it can be a bleak and depressing future for anyone wanting to turn their life around post-prison.

And so, Fine Cell Work, a charity that teaches prisoners the art of sewing while serving time, does a fantastic job of providing a much needed skill that prisoners can utilise both in and outside prison. Founded in 1997 by Lady Anne Tree after decades of campaigning for the right of prisoners to earn money, Fine Cell Work has grown from a bedsit in Bloomsbury to a registered charity which has over 60 volunteers training over 400 prisoners in 29 prison across England.

Proving that the extraordinary can happen even in as austere an environment as prison, Fine Cell Work volunteers train prisoners in paid, skilled needlework to foster hope, discipline and self esteem. And with seventy per-cent of convicted prisoners spending an average of seventeen hours a day in their cell, the therapeutic aspect of learning to sew can be just as important as acquiring a new skill.

Such is the success of the charity that all their classes have waiting lists within the prisons and over 2,500 items were sold in 2010, including cushion covers, quilts and tapestries. Each creation takes approximately one-hundred hours to make, and each stitcher embroiders for, on average, twenty hours a week. And with over 10,000 commissions completed since the charity began in 1997 for clients including The V&A, The Tate Modern and The Royal Palaces, Fine Cell Work is proof that with a lot of determination, dedication and hard work prisoners can piece their lives back together stitch by stitch.

The fantastic pieces produced by Fine Cell Work are all available to buy online; commissions are welcomed and having recently been showcased at the London Design Festival, they are also featuring tonight on BBC 2’s The Culture Show at 7pm. We think both the cause and the concept are incredibly worthy and hope that you do too!