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efore the invention of shoes, our ancestors walked barefoot. In the 18th century, a French novelist called Nicolas-Edme Rétif revealed how

seeing others (men or women) wearing shoes evoke sexual amusement to our sensuality, “Retifism” became the English term for shoe fetishism. People can now find sensual excitement in any kind of shoe, from flip-flops to boots. However, the stiletto, with its extremely slender heels, belongs perhaps most obviously to the realm of fetish culture. In fact, in 2006, AOL released the statistic that 64 percent of sampled users key-in “shoes” when searching fetish surrogates, far above any other object favoured by fetishists. In the 20th century, the stiletto was popular in the late 50s and early 60s, and, as is the case with any fashion ephemera, it goes on- and off-trend. But we can still note its appearance in every A/W collection because its erotic nature lends power to fashion designers’ work. Luxury shoe design houses, such as Manolo Blahnik, Jimmy Choo, and Christian Louboutin, also launch refined versions of the stiletto. It is widely seen on TV, worn by celebrities; or in the office, where women want to exaggerate their strength with increased height.

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Kinky boots are a hyper type of stiletto. They have the signature spike-look heels, and come in a wide range of leg length, colours and materials. The latter is the main provider of kinkiness, since most are made of polyurethane or vinyl. These can be mass-produced at low cost, whereas designer boots come at a much higher price. The word “kinky” describes a type of sexual desire that is different from that described by the word “perverted”. For example, a man finds a woman in boots with slender heels attractive for no rational reason. He does not want to see her in the nude or have intercourse with her, but only to picture her silhouette with her boots on. In medical terms it is regarded as a psychosexual disorder, because such sexiness is not included within a pair of shoes when they are made. That is why people use the word “kinky” to describe this mental status in a humorous way.

In high-street fashion we have ankle boots and knee boots. In the fetish world, fetishists love lace-up-to-the-thigh or even to-the-crotch boots. The ultimate reason for wearing them is that they prevent knees

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from bending, so creating more restriction on mobility. This can be related to Chinese foot binding, which was supposed to be a genre of Asian fetish, but which was already banned by the republic government when the Ching Dynasty was dethroned.

Another sibling of kinky footwear are the ballet boots equipped with unbelievable height, which measures to 7 inches to force the wearer in an en pointe position.[how is this height provided?] that stretches the legs to maximum length. Although ballet boots no longer have the original function – dancing – they are still a manifesto for elegance, in a fragile way. They are rarely displayed in high-street shops, but are available online. And they can be customized: buyers can choose from a wide range of sizes, colours, textures, and types to realize their fantasy.

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D u e x : K i n k y

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L e g s : a f t e r w o r d .

▞ Again, I bought this pair on eBay. When I put them on I thought, “Ah…this must be so-called ‘kinky’.” My mother was a bit worried when she saw me unpacking the parcel; later she told me she could not understand what I needed them for. I couldn't either; that was why I had to do some experiments with them. ▞ Instead of a shoe fetishist or a professional model, I wanted to shoot one person who really has a close relationship with shoes. Then I got the idea of working with dancers, who have authentic conversations with their bodies, and with an essential equipment: shoes. ▞ The model was a friend’s friend, and we met in a posh café in Taipei. When Mu-Yao, the dancer, did the fitting, a woman came to our table and said she was on the staff of Phantom of the Opera, and asked could she take a picture of the dancer? ▞ But in that meeting Mu-Yao had to use all her leg muscles just to stand still, and could manage only a short distance walking. As for dancing in those boots, which was my initial idea, this had to be dismissed. ▞ This time I tortured the model’s capability of keeping balance with all her subtle

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muscles. ▞


Story Five_Kinky Boots_A Feast From Legs