‘Collecting leads me to believe that we often unfairly perceive the past in a qualitative sense. We try to measure and comprehend it with our own value scale, exaggerating the “modernity” of the present in which we live, and underestimating the past.… Describing the 18th century items in my collection, I discovered many quite “modern” scientific achievements made in the 18th century. When speaking of the “modernity” of the discoveries of the past, I mean their significance for today.’
What the well-known collector, founder of the virtual shoe museum Shoe Icons, and longtime friend of the Russian State Art Library (RSAL), Nazim Mustafaev, discusses in the preface to his new book, The 18th Century. Costumes and Shoes, became the starting point for communication with an engrossed audience.
A unique study dedicated not only to the fashion, but primarily to footwear of the 18th century, was presented at RSAL. About himself, the author of the book says: ‘I am not a fashion historian—I am a collector and I only talk about what I can hold in my hands. Unlike many fashion books, I use only the material in my own collection….’ The story of the creation and growth of the collection and the work on the book is an amazing story of research, finds, and discoveries, which generate sincere admiration for both the collector himself and his associates—restorers, photographers, and other enthusiasts who are actually pioneers in the study of the history of footwear.
During the presentation, exhibitions at which Nazim Mustafaev’s collection was presented and his most interesting books (all of which are in RSAL’s collection) were brought to mind. The meeting ended with a discussion of future books and exhibitions.