The 20th Century

By 1914 hemlines were rising and radical changes in the role of women were about to take place due to the First World War. Following the armistice, the age of modernism descended as the leg came into full view and the shoe, now preferred to the boot, became the visible foundation of the silhouette. Colour, pattern and detailing became important design elements. High heels generally reigned as they visually slimmed the foot and ankle, and tightened the calf muscle for a shapely lower leg.

Since the 1910s, modern transportation and communication have transformed fashion into a world commodity. A huge variety of footwear is available to us today. Whether for sport or fashion, these highly designed foot coverings express our individuality, but still serve the purpose for which footwear was originally intended: to protect our feet.

For conservation reasons, and in order to show more variety over time, only a selection of footwear from the permanent collection is displayed in our exhibitions at any one time. This means there's always something new to see.

image of 20th century footwear