Meta Shoe – silhouettes of light

3 interviews, 3 exhibitors; endless points of view – follow the steps into the stiletto exhibition – Cinderella Syndome.


Idit Barak

Fashion designer and senior lecturer at the fashion department in Shenkar Design Academy

It took Idit seven years to process her visit to the Bergdorf Goodman shoe salon into a shoe which expresses the contradictions she experienced during the visit

Bergdorf Goodman which is located in New York’s 5th Avenue in is an exclusive shrine for stylish shoes, which takes its visitors back in time into another dimension

The Salon, established in the 1940s, keeps its original interior design to this day. It’s as if time has been froze in the shrine, yet the desire and lust for beauty are relevant and dramatic as always, since ever

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I wear only flat comfortable shoes” says Idit, and although I am aware that women are bewitched by stilettos, still that moment standing in front of a divine pair of Louboutin shoes caught me by surprise. I realized I desired those shoes in a manner I could not anticipate or control

I tried them on, I could barely walk in them yet I was still engulfed by the desire for the shoes

I think women relate to comfort and desire together. Each person creates the mix, the personal answer that suits her – how much am I prepared to suffer for this beauty? Some are prepared to suffer very little, if at all, and there are those who will wear the coveted shoes despite their being uncomfortable –  because the shoes answer that same desire that I, too, experienced that morning.

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We strive to be as healthy as can be, yet in some conditions we choose a controlled portion of disability – so we can address other motives we have such as being perceived by others as sexy and desirable, to elongate the body and to add a sense of tension to it; to create excitement in our body and physical aspect.

Idit wanted to track down this polarity – the painful and the exclusive in a summit meeting. The stiletto-crutches that she presented in the Cinderella Syndrome exhibition touch on the subject using black humour with gold decoration: a type of disability but madly desirable.

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Above: computer rending of the stiletto-crutches, designed by Idit Barak

The Stiletto–crutches relate to characteristics of Loubooutin’s and are best known for: the red outole bottom. The stiletto-crutches are hand-stitched and are made of shiny black leather, its insides are painted in bright red, the butterfly shaped closures are coated with 24K gold.

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Stiletto-crutches designed by Idit Barak, gold butterflies fasten a black corner. Photo: Shelley Lewis at the exhibition

The original crutches were taken apart and reassembled; its lower part is made of a ‘strange’ piece of wood which was connected to the upper part of the ‘real’ pair of crutches. The bottom of the crutches is extremely small in relation to the crutches: only 12 m”m width and length. A real heel top, as used in the footwear industry, is glued to the crutches’ base.

The creating of the stiletto-crutches and its transformation from crutches to a stiletto shoe was done in collaboration with the industrial designer Yaniv Kadosh. The result is an item which will challenge our perception of comfort, disability and sex appeal.


First sketch, by Idit Barak


The making of the stiletto-crutches, in collaboration with industrial designer Yaniv Kadosh

Pink DNA, glittery included

Shelley: were you familiar with the term “Cinderella Syndrome” before the exhibition?

Idit: yes, the natural tension between girls and women, and the tension between femininity as perceived by a chauvinist or by a  feminist interests me. Which of these characters exist inside of me, and where does the transformation between the different characters occur?

Idit: I am feminist, we shattered the roles which are supposedly relegated to women or men. Today, we the women, are independent and responsible for our lives, yet we have this place inside of us which seems at times to have been programmed to dream of the prince who will come and treat you exactly as you imagine

This raises question within me as a woman, as a mother, as a teacher at Shenkar

“On the other hand” Idit continues “maybe this strong craving to be “like a princess” is beyond education and the surrounding influence on us”.

“I wear only black clothes, and when my daughter was a baby I dressed her only in monochromatic clothes. Yet when she was three years old she came up to me and demanded to wear only “dresses that swirl around me” and told me her favorite colour was pink”.

“Today she’s back wearing black, which makes me feel like a proud mum”, Idit laughs.


Sandals I designed for Nimrod shoes in 2012. Pattern making by Nina Avidan

Shelley: when I worked for Nimrod Children’s Footwear Company, we used to laugh that it’s probably inevitable, perhaps girls are born with a gene which say “pink and glittery”.

Idit: It really is in the DNA in some way or other. Sometimes we can fight it and sometimes we can allow ourselves to be little girls who dream of being big

Big or small, disability or comfort, sex appeal or dream-like sweetness – what is the stiletto shoe?

The following interview invites us to dive into this question and come up with some ambiguous and  enlightening resolutions.

Orit Freilich – X-Ray shoes

Orit Freilich, a senior lecturer in the fashion department at Shenkar Academy – exhibited in Cinderella Syndrome an X-ray photo of a pair of shoes she bought in 2006. The photo is accompanied by a soundtrack of her granddaughter singing a children’s song about Cinderella.

The shoes x-rayed by Orit are designed by Maison Martin Margiela, and are part of his series of Replica shoes; Margiela reproduced shoes and perfumes that originally were made in the 1980’s.

Orit: the x-rayimage is silent evidence of the pain embodied in wearing shoes with heels. The nails are an explicit expression of this discomfort.

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Above: Orit Freilich’s granddaughter sings in the sweetest voice ever: “My dear Cinderella loves me, we will soon marry and have a baby boy”.

And the picture above the song: the X-ray image Orit presented in Cinderella Syndrome. Is the shoe being taken apart, or is going through a healing process? And who is the patient? Is it the shoe with distorted nails, or is us, constantly craving for additional elevation and heights?

Orit: The dichotomy between the visual pain seen in the x-ray screen, and the sweet voice of my granddaughter, who is the voice for all the girls who haven’t yet worn shoes with heels – confronts the mature women with what lies ahead for their daughters, while keeping silent about it.

The shoes X-Rayed by Orit, were designed by Maison Martin Margiela, and are part of his Replica series. In this series Margiela remade vintage shoes he had in his private archive. The replicas search for past identities of shoes, and raise questions such as what is authenticity today and what is our relationship with the past?

Replica in its pure essence is the remaking of something from the past, usually considered by us as “original” and “authentic”. During theremaking, the replica becomes an original of its own, and so on and so on.

“I chose a shoe from the Replica series” says Orit during our interview, “because it resontates the remaking, the reproduction of past ideas and objects. Margiella’s shoe recreates a shoe exactly as a woman waiting for her prince recreates the idea of marriage, and the promise of salvation embedded within them –it’s a ceremony which has been repeated again and again since the first couple who married”.


Picture above: waiting for the prince? A Barbie doll between two shoes designed by Ann Demeulemeester, in their original box. An X-ray picture by Orit Freilich.

In the song accompanying the image, my granddaughter sings “My dear Cinderella loves me …” these are actually the words which are supposed to be sung by the man, not the woman.

Shelley: by doing so, the woman gains a hold on the man’s perspective of her, this same image he has of her which affects so many women in such a profound way – am I desirable, am I attractive, what is my value? – And by this she restores control of her self image.

Orit: yes, the song has many meanings, exactly as the photo enabled me to expose hidden components, and take a closer look at the shoe. It’s the same as when the doctor examines our X-ray photo, looking for signs and clues in order to have a better understanding of his, or her patient. I, for example, discovered that the nails in my shoes were crooked, I don’t know if they were like that from the start, or they if were deformed by walking in them.  We reveal a concealed layer while at the same time more questions arise.


In the photo above: Margiela’s Replica shoes; do nails have a hidden language? An X-Ray photo by Orit Freilich

In the photo above: Margiela’s Replica shoes; do nails have a hidden language? An X-Ray photo by Orit Freilich

The interview ended. I was left with thoughts about being exposed and indirect at the same time. Could these two live together?

On the one hand Orit invited us to have a close and introspective look at the shoe, yet the shoe remains mysterious and unknown.

So if you are curious to see the shoe in its entirety, you are welcome to have a look at the bottom of this post, where you can see the shoe posted upside down.

And why is it upside down you might be asking yourselves?

Well, first because this is the nature of riddles, also because the following and last interview turns heels over head.

You can see more of Orit’s work in the upcoming DLD innovation festival on Sep-27, 2016. Orit’s work, titled “C.T. Scan of Cherub”, will include a video installation which will be screened onto the houses in Rothschild Blvd. Tel-Aviv. What kind of images will these be? Well, I guess you get the idea 🙂

The negative of the positive – Avigail Talmor

My phone converstation with Avigail Talmor, owner of the brand For Those Who Pray, took place while Avigail was seated in her studio overlooking the sea that stretches to the far horizon, hand stitching items for five of Comme Il Faut’s exclusive shops.

“I   hand stitch all the objects I make” says Avigail. “From each style I make 15-20 units, and then I move on to the next style. Each style is produced for a specific period and in small quantities. Besides my 5-6 best sellers, which I produce again and again.”

“I don’t produce collections” Avigail continues, “I am part of the slow fashion movement”.


A clutch made of left-over leather, using special techniques. When? Probably right now. In one week from now it might not be available in stock

“The objects I design I make” – and Avigail calls her jewelry ‘objects’ because it allows the items to have a wider definition, without identifying with a specific part of the body – “are always made of left-over black leather I buy. This makes the design work and stitching much more complicated. It takes much longer to choose the best left-overs. Also stitching and connecting pieces of leather which are so different from one another requires high skills and a constant development of new techniques”.

“Ecology is important to me, embedding these values into the process of making an object, but to be honest the value which is the most important for me are my personal aesthetics. Aesthetics are a means of expressing my inner truth. Being precise about aesthetics that express my point of view is something I’m not prepared to compromise on.”


After going further into this we could discuss the object Avigail exhibited in Cinderella Syndrome.

Shelley: the head piece evokes the Statue of Liberty

Avigail: I am also a painter and I was in residency for half a year in New York. I found the Statue of Liberty intriguing; on the one hand it looks like a woman, on the other hand its jaw is masculine. She is dressed in clothes that blur the silhouette of her body, so it’s even harder to tell if it’s a man or a woman.

I find gender interesting; I am driven by the philosophy behind things because all creation is strongly linked to an inner ideology. All actions have a cause, whether hidden or not.

Photo by Guy Goldstein

Head over Heels; For Those Who Pray

Photo by Guy Goldstein

Avigail continues: the statue’s tiara has a lot of power, it includes seven rays pointing to the seven corners of the world. The message is that liberty reaches to the every corner of the world.

In the object I designed for “Cinderella Syndrome” I echo this from my point of view as a fashion designer – the fashion message that spreads from New York outwards.

And the idea, the message I have to offer is a wide and open interpretation of Gothic aesthetics. Why open? Because it is first and foremost a matter of combinations, how does the object I designed blend into your personal style.


Above: Photographer Pavel Bolo|Makeup by Rafit Noy for MAC Cosmetics|Hair by Rafit Noy for MORROCANOIL|Model Noam Shoham

Avigail: this reminds me of an interview I read with Li Edelkoort, the trend setter, who told about a time she was invited to lecture at an office. During the meeting with the staff the people changed clothes with each other, and created new looks which were beyond trends. What really matters in fashion, and perhaps in life too, is the combination, not the trend or a specific object.

I create styles which are multi-cultural. On the one hand they look Gothic, on the other hand they look African. It is all a matter of context, with what and how do you wear, or use an object I designed. An object needs context in order to have meaning


Picture above: photographer Michael Topyol|Makeup: Rafit Noy for MAC Cosmetics|Hair :Rafit Noy for MORROCANOIL|Model Noam Shoham

Shelley: this reminds me of a quote by Rolan Barth who said that a shoe is never just a shoe. A clothing item is never only functional, because it is part of culture.

Michel Foukault said something similar about sexuality: sex doesn’t hold a hidden truth within itself, if anyone of us has a hidden, private, authentic truth relating to his or her own sexuality, then it was implanted with the help of social mechanisms

So actually all our actions are performed within a social context. To say that ‘doing’ is nothing more than the action itself is an injustice to the truth around us – the reality, culture, context.

Avigail: that’s true. My drawings of guard booths raise a question: is the guard booth at the entrance to a car park, or at the border, or at the entrance to a gaol? The booth is imbued with meaning based on its surroundings.


For a moment we leave the wider context of things, and go back to talk about the headpiece Avigail designed

At first glance from afar the object seems like a black crown to the head, but a closer look reveals the many different parts carefully stitched to transform the seven heels into a circle

Avigail: I actually create silhouettes, I see the object as a negative, not a positive. I am not busy with precious stones and diamonds which might decorate the object, but with its overall impact and relationship with the body.The seven rays create a dramatic change in the silhouette of one’s head, exactly as it does for the Statue of Liberty. This is not a decoration, but a major and meaningful change in proportions and shape.

The interview with Avigail ended and I was left in thought.

Avigail creates objects with a clear and dramatic silhouette, in the same way her choice in using only left-over black leather acts as her conceptual silhouette, to her work. She defined dark boundries, with endless beauty and depth.

And last but not least; Margiela’s Replica shoe, why is it upside down? Because it’s an answer to a small riddle, and because it makes sense here, in this contxt 🙂


Replica shoes designed by Maison Marin Margiela; resonating ideas and dreams into the present. Photo by Orit Freilich.

for further reading about the exhibןtion, the post about the opening evening, and an interview with Yaara Keidar, curator of the exhibition.

I’d love to read your comments, I invite you to comment, write and share your personal stories about shoes

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