Prince Designed His Own High Heels, and Now a Museum Is Treating Them Like High Art

Standing just five foot three, Prince often wore high-heeled shoes he designed himself.

Shoes designed for and worn by Prince, about 1994. Courtesy of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.
Shoes designed for and worn by Prince, about 1994. Courtesy of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

London’s Victoria & Albert Museum is exhibiting like it’s 1999. The museum is paying tribute to late pop legend Prince with a display of recently acquired black floral-patterned high-heel shoes designed by the singer-songwriter.

Prince, who died in 2016 at 57, was known perhaps as much for his outrageous fashion choices—which often challenged traditional gender roles and ideas of masculinity—as for his eclectic musical stylings. The musician, who was just five foot three, wore the high-heeled shoes when he performed.

Designed in 1994, this particular pair features metal braces that reinforce the shoes between the heel and outer sole, making it possible for Prince to safely perform wild dance moves and leap across the stage. This design feature is almost invisible to the naked eye, a seamless integration of function and form.

Prince performs during the Super Bowl in 2007. Photo Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images.

Prince performs during the Super Bowl in 2007. Photo Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images.

The satin shoes also feature Prince’s logo, a mix of the Mars and Venus symbols that represent the male and female genders, which he called “love symbol #2.” After a dispute with his label, Prince famously changed his name to the unpronounceable symbol in 1993. It became an important part of his iconography as a rock star; here, it hangs from the shoes’ golden zippers.

“We hope seeing these shoes will encourage people to consider the creative opportunities of shoe design as a career, as well as educate visitors on how skilled craftsmanship and design can be used to support the art of performance,” said Geoffrey Marsh, director of the V&A’s Theatre and Performance Collections, in a statement.

Shoes designed for and worn by Prince, about 1994. Courtesy of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

Shoes designed for and worn by Prince, about 1994. Courtesy of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

The shoes went on display Tuesday at the museum’s Theatre and Performance galleries. The V&A’s National Collection of Performing Arts includes other outfits from rock and pop music history, including garments designed for and worn by the likes of Elton John, Mick Jagger, and the Beatles.

Since his death, Prince has inspired a Pantone color, and his Minneapolis home has been turned into a museum. Some of the singer’s musical effects have been sold at auction, including his “Yellow Cloud” guitar and Purple Rain jacket.


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