Sunday, April 27, 2008

A Shoeaholic's Fantasy: The Bata Shoe Museum

The Bata Shoe Museum is a shoeaholic's fantasy. Although I am more partial to beautiful clothing (is there such a thing as a dress-aholic?), I was enchanted from the moment I walked into the building.

From the basement level to the third floor, there is an incredible variety of shoes on display, including:
* exquisitely beaded moccasins
* delicate silk Chinese slippers for bound lotus feet
* 16th century Venetian chopines with 5 inch velvet covered platforms
* delicate 18th century brocaded slippers

While studying their extensive collection, it struck me that some of the seemingly outrageous shoes of this season and seasons past are not really innovations, but simply reinterpretations of the past. Is anything really new in fashion anymore?

Also on display were a selection of shoes from famous feet including:
* robin's egg blue pumps from Diana, Princess of Wales
* zebra print boots belonging to Picasso
* a pair of Roger Federer's tennis shoes from the French Open
And who knew that prim and proper Winston Churchill wore casual boots? Or that Pierre Elliot Trudeau wore hippy sandals?

One fact that made me laugh out loud was that one famous English dandy Beau Brummel took five hours to dress and that his boots were polished with champagne. Granted his 19th century boots were very beautifully polished and in superb condition, but frankly I'd rather drink champagne than polish my boots with it!

I spent several hours in this delightful museum getting my fashion fix. I left wishing that the Royal Ontario Museum had give more space to their enormous fashion collection instead of confining it to a single room on the fourth floor. For a very modest entry fee of $12, the Bata Shoe Museum is full of inspiration for shoeaholics, fashionistas, artists, students and just regular folk.

The Bata Shoe Museum
327 Bloor Street West, Toronto