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Extreme fashion: how the high heel began

03
Dec '09
The Bata Shoe Museum invites you to walk a mile in the shoes of fashion pioneers with the recently debuted shoe exhibit On a Pedestal: From Renaissance Chopines to Baroque Heels. Shoe aficionados and art lovers alike can take a glimpse into the evolution of the high heel as this exhibit strolls through the rarest examples of Renaissance and Baroque footwear ever worn in Western fashion. Some of the Venetian chopines on view soar up to 20 inches in height.

According to curator Elizabeth Semmelhack, "The treacherously high heels that have come into fashion in recent years can not compare with the heights achieved by the chopines worn during the Renaissance. These shockingly high platforms literally put women on pedestals and prove that extreme fashion is nothing new." The exhibition explores the social history of elevating footwear in the 16th and 17th centuries and considers why shoes have been so inexorably connected to the construction of femininity and the gendered economics of fashion then and now. The chopine's primary purpose was to increase the wearer's stature and proclaim her, and more importantly, her family's status thorough sumptuous dress.

This exhibition brings together for the first time treasured artefacts from numerous renowned International museums including: Victoria and Albert Museum, London; Museo Bardini, Florence; Castello Sforzesco, Milan; Livrustkammaren and Skoklosters Slott, both Stockholm; Museo Palazzo Mocenigo and Museo Correr, both Venice; Ambras Castle, Austria; Boston Museum of Fine Art, Boston and Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto as well as shoes for the Bata Shoe Museum.

Accompanying the exhibition is a full-color catalogue and an exciting series of programs. On a Pedestal will be on view until September 20, 2010. Elizabeth Semmelhack, Senior Curator and Mrs. Sonja Bata, Founding Chairman of the Bata Shoe Museum are available for interviews on request.

The Bata Shoe Museum is dedicated to uncovering the role of footwear in the social and cultural life of humanity. The Museum's growing international collection of over 13,000 objects touches on 4,500 years of history. A varied program of events and exhibitions lets visitors discover the stories behind footwear from many lands and cultures.

The Bata Shoe Museum


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