Friday, July 9, 2010

Fashion as Art: Footwear Designs of Marloes ten Bhömer

It's been a busy summer so far! I've been non-stop working since the school year ended, with the CSA conference and some of my own independent research churning along (yes, I'm still on the Czech denim kick). It's been a while since I've had the luxury to write a post however, so here is a little something to mull over until I can get back on a normal schedule.

One of the reasons I became interested in fashion studies is so that I could explore the divide (or is there one?) between fashion and art. Growing up, I recognized that fashion was a form of art - after all, the methodologies of designers are similar to those of artists. They have inspirations, they sketch or conceptualize their craft and most of all, they create. Yet despite the increase of fashion, dress and textile exhibitions in museums both art historical and non, many people deny fashion as an art form in favor of its capitalistic, seemingly vapid industry image.

Guilty as charged, there was a time when I criticized the work of runway couturiers. I couldn't fathom why someone would create an ensemble that couldn't - and wouldn't - be worn by the average person, or even the celebrity at that. But when I looked at each piece like it was a painting or sculpture, it made more sense. Fashion doesn't necessarily have to be worn - it has to be seen, it has to be innovative, and it has to make the viewer think, just like any other work of art.

I'm sure I could dedicate another post to theorizing about "what is couture?" - but I won't do that now. However, I would love to bring to light the designs of Marloes ten Bhömer, who's pieces blew me away. I'll be the first to admit that I am not "up" on the fashion couture fashion scene, but Bhömer is clearly a woman who can be understood by fashionistas and art enthusiasts alike.

Her collection consists mainly of unique shoe designs that challenge the viewer to process the design and wonder, "can people really wear those?" Not to the same extent as Alexander McQueen's outlandishly gawdy chopine-like footwear - Bhömer uses geometry, physics and utilitarian materials like paper, fiberglass and steel to create shoes that are actually functional and visually captivating. She is constantly experimenting with technology, producing unconventional accessories without overwhelming buyers, curators and the common person.

Bhömer, in my opinion, has successfully straddled the line between what makes fashion, fashion, and what makes fashion, art. Below are some of my favorites; I'd love to find more designers like her, so if you know of any good ones, please comment below.
Rotationalmouldedshoe. Materials: Polyurethane rubber and stainless steel.
Noheelsleathershoe. Materials: Leather.
Carbonfibreshoe #1. Materials: Carbon fibreShoes constructed from carbon fibre.
The heels are placed on the side of the shoe, forcing the weight of the body to distribute of from side to side when walking.

All photos courtesy of

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