"Printz" by Christian Louboutin, Spring/Summer 2013–14.
"Killer Heels: The Art of the High-Heeled Shoe," an exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum in New York City, features more than 160 pairs of what the museum calls "fashion's most provocative accessory."
A silk and metal chopine from Italy (1550-1650), in the Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
In the 15th and 16th centuries Italian women wore shoes with raised heels as conspicuous signs of status and wealth; some chopines reached elevations of 20 inches.
Silk and leather women's shoes from France, 1690–1700. From the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
According to the curators of "Killer Heels," the heeled shoe is believed to have had its origin among Persian horsemen. In the 16th century the style was carried over to the European aristocracy - men, that is, for whom high heels conveyed masculinity. That fashion soon fell by the wayside, but was picked up by women, for whom high heels brought an alluring appeal.
A 19th century Chinese Manchu woman's Shoe, made from cotton and embroidered satin-weave silk.
During the Qing Dynasty in China (beginning in the 17th century), the Manchu majority forbade the binding of women's feet. In its place, platform shoes served to convey class status.
A 1938 platform sandal made with leather and cork by Salvatore Ferragamo, 1938. Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
Vivienne Westwood's "Super Elevated Gillie," 1993.
Rem D. Koolhaas
"Eamz," by Rem D. Koolhaas, 2004.
Inspired by an Eames chair, Koolhaas created a shoe with an "invisible" heel.
Chau Har Lee
"Blade Heel" by Chau Har Lee, 2010. Perspex, stainless steel, leather.
Noritaka Tatehana's "Atom," 2012–13. Faux leather.
"Virgule Houndstooth" by Roger Vivier, Fall 2014. Calf hair.
As internal steel rods helped reinforce the structure of the heeled shoe, designers began sculpting elegant variations, producing unique silhouettes.
Wedge Prada sandal in rosso, bianco, and nero leather, Spring/Summer 2012.
Nicholas Kirkwood pumps, from Spring/Summer 2013. Suede with gold and clear Swarovski crystals.
Winde Rienstra's "Bamboo Heel," 2012. Made from bamboo, glue, and plastic cable ties.
The designer states her shoes exist on the boundary of clothing and art object.
"Nova," by Zaha Hadid X United Nude, 2013. Constructed from chromed vinyl rubber, kid napa leather and fiberglass.
"Unicorn Tayss" by Walter Steiger, Spring 2013.
"Killer Heels: The Art of the High-Heeled Shoe" runs at the Brooklyn Museum in New York City through March 1, 2015.
The exhibit then tours to the Albuquerque Museum, (May 30-Aug. 9, 2015), Palm Springs Art Museum (Sept. 4, 2015-Jan. 3, 2016), the Currier Museum of Art in Manchester, N.H. (Feb. 5- May 15, 2016), and the Frick Art & Historical Center in Pittsburgh (June 10-Sept. 4, 2016).
By CBSNews.com senior producer David Morgan