Westwood takes a walk on the wild side


Super-elevated, cobalt blue Gillie platforms so high even Naomi Campbell took a catwalk tumble in a pair in 1993, equally vertiginous wooden "rocking horse" soles and, of course, the famous "pirate" boot first shown in 1981 and a bestseller to this day. These are just some of Vivienne Westwood's best-loved shoe designs, featured in the new fashion and textile gallery at the Bowes Museum in Barnard Castle, Co Durham, from today until 10 July.

The exhibition includes 200 pairs, dating from 1973 to the present. Like the clothes which they are designed to accompany, Westwood's shoes are not intended for the shrinking violet – or the commuter running for a bus.

Like everything by the British designer, they challenge the rules of convention, juxtapose unlikely references (Delft pottery and Cuban heels, for example) and ensure that madam's considerable assets are not only shown off to best possible effect but also exaggerated. Anyone labouring under the delusion that it is the preserve of male designers only to objectify women would do well to look here. First unveiled at the London department store Selfridges last year, the shoes will then step out to Japan, New York and China.

Vivienne Westwood Shoes, thebowesmuseum.org.uk