Shoes: Wearable art?

Zoe Godden visits Newcastle's Scorpio shoes in the heart of Grainger market

15th February 2016

Feminist artist icon Frida Kahlo once said,“Feet, what do I need you for when I have wings to fly?” Perhaps this statement was once true, but in a society where art and fashion have merged, footwear has become a go-to for stylistic statements and self-empowerment. Gone are the days of black flats and laced-up trainers; shoes have become a canvas of creativity, often resembling works of art rather than serving their desired purpose.

   Scorpio Shoes understands the importance of this unique form of aesthetic expression. Based in Grainger Market, it’s pretty hard to miss them, sporting a giant lace-up boot on its roof situated between a number of cafés. The store itself is designed unlike any other shoe shop in the city, inspired by rockabilly, pop art and underground grunge. Own-brand soup cans display products in an odd reference to Andy Warhol, whilst metal grids hang up Gucinari leather slip-ons in a fashion akin to works recently featured in The Baltic, with B. Wurtz’s current exhibition on reused materials offering notable similarities.

"It's not just the shop that resembles an art gallery; the shoes are the main exhibits"

   It’s of course not just the shop that resembles an art gallery; the shoes are the main exhibits. The most eye-catching brand you’ll spot in their window displays are from Hades, a collection of self-confessed ‘intricately designed shoes made not only with elegance but a dangerously addictive sex appeal.’ These are not for the light-hearted, decorated with bullets, cogs and spikes to create gorgeously gothic and steampunk footwear that could literally slay the catwalk. A significant bestseller is a pair of knee length white boots that sport vintage buckles and a skeleton-like metal heel, perfect for telling others you mean business.

   Another big seller for Scorpio is Irregular Choice, a company known for their overly-kitsch and elaborate pieces. For something more conventional, there’s plenty of collage-style shoes to try on, adorned with corsages and lace to give your outfit all the accessories it needs. If you’re feeling brave though, the brand is famous for their weird and wonderful high heels, with plastic pandas, flamingos, lightsabers, and many more unorthodox items giving the shoes their support. They’ll take some practice to walk in, but will give you the satisfaction that you’ve become a mobile gallery. And once you’re done wearing them, your new pair of luxury footwear can become an instant piece of art for your home; though it’s probably best to clean them before putting them on your mantelpiece.

"Decorated with bullets, cogs and spikes to create gorgeously gothic and steampunk footwear"

   However, if you want some more sturdy footwear for your day-to-day activities, Scorpio’s impressive collection of Doc Martens is sure to please. No longer must you have to choose between boring primary colours, as Scorpio’s stock features artwork from across the ages. Most obviously, you’ll spot William Hogarth’s A Rake’s Progress printed onto the iconic ankle boot, and contemporary designer Mark Wigan has created a number of pieces for the brand, utilising strikingly colourful, often Aboriginal-influenced graphics similar to the works of Keith Haring.

"You're paying for the insane level of detail these pieces showcase"

   The prices are rather steep, much like most real works of art, but Scorpio Shoes are worth investing in. You’re paying for the insane level of detail these pieces showcase, highlighting the talent of their creators and the bizarre side of the fashion industry. Just make sure to watch your step.

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