'Shoe Obsession' at the Museum at FIT

Prada shoes, from the spring 2012 collection, are Prada shoes, from the spring 2012 collection, are on display in the "Shoe Obsession" exhibit at the Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan through April 13. Photo Credit: The Museum at FIT

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Even the Old Testament talks about shoes. The writers weren't clear on just what kind of sandal Judith wore that so enticed Holofernes -- but this Biblical tale ends badly for the dude. (Judith seduces, then beheads him.)

"This shoe obsession goes way back for men and women," says Valerie Steele, director and chief curator of the Museum at FIT, where a new exhibit on the seductive nature of shoes just opened.

"Shoe Obsession," running in the Special Exhibitions Gallery through April 13, explores our fascination with footwear -- high heels, in particular, from Manolo Blahnik to Christian Louboutin to Alexander McQueen.

The show offers more than 150 stunning pairs, from the spikiest stilettos to the wackiest, most gravity-defying platforms.

"Shoes and accessories have moved center-stage in fashion," says Steele. "Maybe it's because shoes are sculptural. Clothing, when not worn, just lies there flat, lifeless. But shoes seem to have an autonomous quality, which may explain why our obsession with shoes seems to have reached new heights."

Don't miss these high-heeled jaw-droppers.

MANOLO BLAHNIKĀ Check out his rhinestone-buckled, silver d'Orsay shoes, a version of which figured prominently in a 2003 "Sex and the City" episode titled "A Woman's Right to Shoes."

RUPERT SANDERSON He designed a simple pair of gold gladiator sandals (simple if you're not impressed by the two gold, crouched figures that serve as the platform and heel) for Verdi's "Aida" at the Royal Opera in London in 2010. Yes, wear them ... while singing.

THE DAPHNE GUINNESS CASE This style icon and beer heiress has a major shoe jones. She's donated a few faves from her closet, including sparkly Louboutins, pony-haired Nina Riccis that look like you're wearing the shoe upside down, and an Alexander McQueen marvel (from his Spring 2008 collection) that suggests an embroidered pink and black bridge.

NICHOLAS KIRKWOOD A relatively new, young, upstart designer, his Alice shoe comes complete with wee dangling teacups and a brass key. Good luck running to catch the train in these.

MASAYA KUSHINO Keep an eye on your pulse when checking out "Lung-ta" (aka, "The Wind Horse"), a sculptural masterpiece by this young Japanese artist who crafted a shoe out of leather, lace, polished wood and a fine ponytail of silky golden human (yes, human) hair. "This is not a shoe you wear in the subway," said his translator at the exhibit opening. "You don't wear these at all. This is fine art." Hey, we're not arguing.

"Shoe Obsession"

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WHEN | WHERE Through April 13, closed Sundays and Mondays. The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology, Seventh Avenue at 27th Street

INFO Free, 212-217-4558, fitnyc.edu

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