Brussels woke up to a springlike May Day but – quelle surprise! – it had rained the previous night and parks were not exactly picnic ready. So I slipped into something sporty and, instead of sloshing through paddles of mud to pick up flowers for the traditional Mayday wreath, I hip hopped with springlike excitement to a fun exhibition at La Médiatine.
La Médiatine is the exhibition hall of the Cultural Centre of Woluwe-Saint-Lambert (one of Brussels’ more prosperous municipalities), devoted to the promotion of French Community artists; yet, these days, their entire space is taken over by Sneakers! – a cool exhibition arranged by the Centre Albert Marinus, featuring, well… sneakers.
From the 1930s heavy leather football shoes, to the latest feather-light, anatomically cushioned, high-tech innovative designs and all the most extravagant, bling, ridiculous and bizarre models in-between – with a glimpse of the latest ultrahip, high-fashion designer interpretations – they are all here.
A few models were conceived especially for the exhibition (mainly by French-speaking artists born or working in Brussels) but most are actual shoes produced by various multinational brands, both widely available and limited editions, all lent by private collectors.
Inspired by the iridescent scales of the Xenopeltis snake of Southeast Asia, Adidas XENO is shining brightly when hit with a flash…
… rather unassuming in natural light
This is how artist Catherine Versé interprets globalisation, grotesque and heavy on the feet
A Rick Owens for Adidas: my favourite
Even though I don’t follow NBA, I would love to wear this LeBron X Cork by Nike, made in 2013 after popping a few champagne corks to celebrate the 3rd NBA MVP (Most Valuable Player) title won by LeBron James. He won a 4th since.
Sneakers in Natural Science :: Nikeosaurus Airmaximus, 2014 by Phil van Duynen
Sneakers in Natural Science :: Lacosteosaurus Tennis, 2014 by Phil van Duynen
Some vintage models: from left to right, cycling 1975, football 1960, football 1955, football 1935, mountain child’s shoe 1950
Converse All Star Chuck Taylor: they’ve come a long way since the first ever All Star was launched in 1917
One pair, endless possibilities: that’s how Sneakers Waz publisized their idea to use sliding plates that change the patterns to match the outfit or mood. Created by two young guys from Brussels, in 2013. Very ’80s don’t you find?
Collectors item: Nike Jordan Miro. Created in 2008 for the Olympic Games in less than 1000 pairs. The shoelaces represent the colours of the Olympic rings.
Air Mag, Nike 2011. Made popular with the film Back to the Future 2. Nike launched 1500 replicas sold on eBay with proceeds going to Michael Fox Foundation and the fight against Parkisons disease.
There is a whole room filled entirely with shoes from the private collection of Daddy K, the Belgian rapper who obviously lives in a Tardis, i.e. his place is bigger on the inside, or else I don’t know how it could fit in his collection of 5000 pairs; which, I understand, keeps growing, for – according to our guide – when Daddy K goes shopping, he always buys 3 pairs: 1 to wear and 2 for his collection.
An ingenious 2-in-1 concept: Praying mat and Nike Air Force One by Mehdi-Georges Lahlou, 2015.
Inspired by Iron Man. Sneaker mask (#45) by Freehand Profit, created in 2013 from a single pair of Air Jordan “Fire Red” IVs. Gary Lockwood / Freehand Profit
Another sneaker mask (#69) by Freehand Profit. Created in 2013, released in 2014, from a single pair of Nike Lebron 11 “King’s Pride”. Gary Lockwood / Freehand Profit
More from Daddy K’s Tardis:
Reebok Kamikaze with its distinctive retro look
Adidas Superstar RUN-DMC
Could have been Daddy K’s step-in wardrobe but it is only a room, tattooed by Jean-Luc Moerman, 2015:
A message against child labour and slavery, by Monk, 2015:
Hawking sneakers, Rombaut, 2014
Beast Shoes, 2015 by Pierre-Yves Renkin
Sacred Sneaker, 2015 by Rosmorduc
Air Kool Koor, 2015 by Kool Koor
The Haute-Couture version:
Dior Fusion 2014
Dior Dorsay, 2014
Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel, ready-to-wear collection 2014 in lace…
… and tweed
Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel, ready-to-wear collection 1986
Sneakers! is still on, until 02nd June 2015
Allée Pierre Levie, 1
opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday, 12:00 – 17:00hrs.
Saboosh, François Curlet
Shared credits for images (Lia & Konstantinos)
Brussels, 1st May 2015