Monday, May 10, 2010


For Mother's Day, yesterday for those of us in North America, The Heiress and I ventured to Toronto to visit The Bata Shoe Museum.  It's a smallish museum consisting of four floors of a variety of historical footwear and celebrity memorabilia.  The fourth floor housed the most fascinating collection of chopines (pronouced sha-peen), popular during the 15th and 16th century.
Worn by women to protect their delicate shoes from mud and puddles, they became a symbol of wealth.  They elevated women not only from the filth on the road but physically, as to appear 'above' their peers or those of lower status.  They also allowed a woman to show off her wealth by requiring more luxurious fabric to lengthen her gowns accordingly.  This pair is one of the more extreme examples and would require servants to hold up the lady wearing them whilst walking about.

This x-ray gives you an idea of what the construction is like.

 I knew that footwear existed to protect fancy shoes but in all my reading and museum visits this was the first time I've seen such a thing.  They immediately made the footwear seen on the runway or worn by Victoria Beckham seem a tad less bold!  There were some other interesting displays which I'll post about in a couple of days. 


  1. That looks absolutely fascinating. There is a shoe museum in the town where my Mum lives (it was historically famous for shoe production) and we must go and see it sometime soon.

    PS: Isee you're reading the Crimson Rooms - I read that about a fortnight ago.

  2. A shoe museum! Bata was a store here in BC when I was growing up I got my school shoes there!
    I'd never be able to navigate the street or sidewalks in those tall would be like wearing stilts!

  3. Heavens, I've no head for heights, I teeter even in stilettos these days!

  4. Wow they're fantastic. Note to self: Remember the word chopines as think it would be good for scrabble.

  5. I remember reading about this museum when it opened and thinking how fab it would be to visit!

    The V&A does have some chopines in the dress collection but none as spectacular as the second pair down.

    And just think--I'd be over 7 feet tall in that pair--very scary! I'd most definitely need some servants to hold me up!

    K x

  6. My eyebrows just hit the ceiling! I can't imagine why anyone would have wanted to wear those. Most, most odd! I must check out the fashion quarter at work to see what examples we have on my lunchbreak tomorrow!

  7. My daughter (Twin A) would love this museum! It is a must see on our next trip to Toronto.

  8. Hey, I went to a shoe museum when I was in Czechoslovakia (it was so long ago--the country was still one...):
    I had no idea there was another such place in the world. Aren't those shoes amazing--scary nail though!!

  9. PS: Love the pink peonies darlene