Alexander McQueen’s iconic ‘Angel Shoe’ to be show highlight at Pageant of the Masters

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This summer, the Pageant of the Masters steps into the world of fashion with its new production-themed “Á La Mode: The Art of Fashion.” Anticipated to be one of the most exciting seasons yet, audiences will be swept off their feet with this captivating journey through history’s most iconic fashion trends and spectacles. Among the highlights, is the re-creation of the famed “Angel Shoe” from Alexander McQueen’s groundbreaking 2010 Fall Collection.

“Angel Shoe,” by Alexander McQueen, currently on exhibit at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, England, will be re-created in the 2024 Pageant of the Masters production “À La Mode: The Art of Fashion.” Jaron James/V&A Photography Studio 

High heels transcend mere footwear – they have become fashion statements, accessories, and sometimes, like the “Angel Shoe” by British designer Alexander McQueen, they evolve into bold pieces of art. This iconic high heel made its debut in the “Angels and Demons” collection that followed McQueen’s death in February 2010. The shoe features a sculpted resin heel shaped like an angel, complemented by an intricate feather that forms along the sole. Leather wings with silver embroidery gracefully frame the foot, giving a sense of flight. 

“I think it illustrates Alexander McQueen’s immense creativity,” said Diane Challis Davy, Pageant of the Masters director. “McQueen drew inspiration from Byzantine art and Old Master paintings. I love the way he reinterprets art history into contemporary fashion. He is a true master of costume, materials and construction.”

The history of high heels traces back to the 10th century when Persian calvary wore them as a way to help keep their shoes in their stirrups. In the 17th century, influenced by the shoes worn by Persian emissaries, European nobility embraced the eye-catching footwear, which were often brightly colored and crafted from luxurious materials. High heels rose to prominence as a symbol of power and status for both men and women, before undergoing a dramatic shift in the 18th century. As fashion became more gendered and men’s trends began to emphasize practicality, high heels transitioned to primarily women’s footwear. Today, high heels continue to captivate fashion enthusiasts worldwide, serving as both a statement of style and a celebration of individuality.

During the first act of this summer’s Pageant of the Masters, audiences will be treated to a series of works that Challis Davy has dubbed “Fabulous Footwear.” This portion of the production will feature re-created masterpieces showcasing the artistry of footwear through the ages, like the “Royal Parisian Wedding” from a 14th-century manuscript, “The Swing” by oil painter Jean H. Fragonard, and, of course, “Angel Shoe” by Alexander McQueen.

“McQueen’s ‘Angle Shoe’ was the first time I had ever come across a shoe with a sculptured human figure. We knew instantly we needed to include it in the show,” said Challis Davy. “It should be spectacular to see a much larger-than-life re-creation of the shoe on the Pageant stage.”

From the opulent grandeur of royal courts to the contemporary glamor of today’s runways, “À La Mode: The Art of Fashion” will unravel the narrative of attire through the ages, revealing its inherent power and significance. Presented under Laguna Beach’s starry-summer night sky, the 2024 Pageant of the Masters will also feature live, original music and narration, breathtaking theatrical illusions, and some surprises, all presented in the 2,600-seat amphitheater of the Irvine Bowl.

“À La Mode: The Art of Fashion” will grace the stage nightly from July 6 through Aug. 30.

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