TALLINN - One way to get to know a person without having to strike up a conversation with them is to look at their shoes. You see, there are some people who happen to think that it's not the eyes which are the mirror of the soul, but the shoes. Or that's the theory, anyway.
However, this soul-gazing method may not work if the shoes you are looking at were designed by Jaanus Orgussaar. No, no, no. The souls (and indeed the soles) of his shoes are well and truly mysterious vessels.
Orgussaar has already established himself in Estonian fashion design through his outstanding collections made for the annual ERKI Fashion Show. He also represented Estonia at Fashion TV's "Baltic Party." Although Orgussaar's creativity is not exclusively focused on shoes, he is probably the only local designer who gives shoes particular emphasis in his collections.
The exhibition that opened last week at Tallinn's Linnagalerii is Orgussaar's first. Yet the show has already proven really popular, with some half a dozen visitors to be seen at any time in the gallery, which is actually pretty impressive for Estonia. Most of the visitors are women, who tend to reverentially regard the boots as if they were the most exquisite canvasses.
Orgusaar learned how to make shoes all by himself, and perhaps that is why his creations are so original. His design style is so flamboyant that, although his shoes would never really appeal to the general public, there will always be someone, somewhere, who would buy them.
Orgussaar does not limit himself to traditional materials like leather. Some of his designs feature combinations of plywood for the soles and transparent plastic for the insteps. One pair is made solely out of medical dropping tubes.
The shoes on display can be divided into three main series although the artist did not categorize them in this way himself. These are the "wide toe series," the "skewed clasp series" and the "hoof series." The latter is really puzzling: how can anyone wear shoes that have a hoof-like toe?
The medieval-like boots made of thick brown leather with asymmetrical clasps or buckles look heavy and would probably last a lifetime. Classy high-heel boots with a blinding color combination of red and blue are stunningly elegant. The plywood-plastic sandals have something somehow Japanese in them.
Orgussaar himself says the focus of the exhibition is not on shoes as a fetish but rather on shoes as works of art that reflect real life. I have no idea what that means, but the shoes look magnificent at any rate.
Design footwear by Jaanus Orgussaar,
13 Harju St., Tallinn.
Open until Jan. 25
Wed. - Mon., Noon - 6 p.m.