Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Inspiring the Artist

For centuries shoes and shoemakers have inspired artists.  From devotional depictions of the shoemaking saints to evocative interpretations of the elegant high heel, artists have explored footwear's rich symbolism and striking shapes in myriad artworks.  Currently on display until early 2012, Art in Shoes ~ Shoes in Art highlights the Bata Shoe Museum's own collection of shoe-related artworks from rare 15th century woodblock prints to whimsical 20th century sculptures.

La laborieuse cordonniere by Charles Philippon. French and English c. 1835

Historically, shoemaking was a predominately male profession but in the 19th century the advent of industrialization saw many women employed to bind uppers.  The colour lithograph (above) depicts one of these workers as a lovely young woman putting the finishing touches on an assortment of fashionalble footwear.

Adelaides, 1830s-40s

This pair of ankle boots (above) date to the period of the print and are very similar to the pair being made by the young shoemaker.  Upper-class women's footwear in the first half of the 19th century was often made using luxury materials such as silk and fine wool and all the details on the footwear were hand-finished.  Fashionable women's footwear was also remarkably narrow.

Habit de Coronnier by Gerard Valck, Dutch, 1690s.

Gerard Valck was inspired by Nicolas de Larmessin II's Costumes Grotesques: Habit d'Arifice and created even more fantastical costumes for his own prints.  Shoes and shoemaker's tool are cleverly used to construct the shoemaker's outfit. The cuffs of his jacket are decorated with pigs bristles, his belt displays shoe lasts and his hat is comprised of fashionable shoes for men and women.

German or Austrian, 1680-1730

The elegant pewter guild flask in the shape of a shoe with a square toe and a screw top was probably a presentation gift.  The honoured guests or presenters names are engraved on the sole of the shoes, indicating their titles: Stefan Walder, Oberzechmeister, Franz Eglseder, Jungmeister and Alebede Marg, Meister.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Providing Warmth and Protection

The Bata Shoe Museum's collection of footwear worn by the cultures living in the world's circumpolar region is the largest comprehensive collection in existence. These shoes and boots are made to withstand some of the harshest climates that humans can endure. Whether they are made from seal, caribou, or fish, they can provide the warmth and protection that is needed on snow, land, ice and in water.

The Bata Shoe Museum is committed to the collection, documentation, and care of the circumpolar collection, and we are equally committed the study of circumpolar peoples through field trips and living ethnographies. It is through these field studies that we can explore the construction of the footwear and the sewing techniques of the women who made them. This blog entry will look at some of the circumpolar artefacts in our collection from various regions of the world.

The upturned toes and colourful felt and leather decoration on these Anar Saami reindeer hair boots are typical of Saami footwear. They are made from the relatively rare white parts of a reindeer hide which was reserved for weddings and important ceremonies. This pair was made in Finland by Helena Naakkaalaajaarvi.

Inari, Finland, 1990. ©2010 Bata Shoe Museum

Colourful and elaborately appliqued cotton boot shafts and liners are the hallmarks of Nanai boots. Made in 1994 by Anna Michailovna Beldi of Sakhalin Island - which is just between Japan and mainland Russia, these boots feature fish skin soles and vamps which would be water-proof and lightweight.

Sakhalin Island, Russia, 1994. ©2010 Bata Shoe Museum

Most Ungava seamstresses follow traditional kamik patterns for their haired seal skin boots. This pair was made by Mary Luuku of Ivujivik and can be identified as being for a girl or a woman because of the dark triangle skin pieces sewn horizontally into the boot shaft. Seal skin is a popular choice for Inuit kamiks because of its water resistant qualities.

Ivujivik, Canada, 1981. ©2010 Bata Shoe Museum

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

"JUNO Sole" opens at the BSM!

The Bata Shoe Museum was very excited to open our latest exhibition, "JUNO Sole" in partnership with CARAS - The Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences- on November 10th, 2010. The night before the Museum and CARAS held a special evening opening, hosted by JUNO Award winner Jully Black, who's spirit and enthusiasm lent as much to the night as her sparkly gold Manolo's added to the exhibition!

On the afternoon of November 9th, Museum staff put the final touches on the new gallery while event and JUNO staff members began the task of transforming the Museum into a venue which would host an evening full of shoes, music, fashion and wine.

At 6pm, the red carpet was filled with photographers who snapped pics of celebrities and guests arriving in anticipation of being the first to see this exciting new gallery. One of the many highlights of the red carpet was the arrival of Jully Black.

Jully not only entertained the crowd, but also gave a wonderful introduction to both Sonja Bata and CARAS president and CEO Melanie Berry, both of whom spoke about the what the opening of this exhibition means to the Museum and the JUNO Awards. After the speeches, guests, including Canadian musicians Hawksley Workman, Sarah Slean and Fred Penner enjoyed listening the sounds of the in-house dj, reading what others were saying about the party on the "Twitter wall" and of course,the cutting of the ribbon to offically open this new exhibition which we hope will delight visitors until the gallery closes until November 30th, 2011!

For more video clips of "JUNO Sole" opening night celebration, please visit the
Bata Shoe Museum's YouTube channel

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Bata Industrials

For the last two months the world has watched the incredible story of  the trapped Chilean miners play out on television and the internet.  There was worldwide concern for the safety of these men and worldwide relief as their amazing rescue unfolded. This is one of those situations where everyone truly wishes they could do something to help.  One group who realized they actually could help was Research and Design team at Bata Industrials Latin America.  The story of what they created to help the miners is fascinating to the staff of the Bata Shoe Museum because of the way this organization was able to use their technical knowledge to create a product which could make an immediate change to the comfort and health of the trapped miners.

While the 33 miners remained trapped underground, one of the aims of the rescuers was to try and make the miner's situation as liveable as possible until a rescue could be achieved.  One of the many discomforts the miners suffered was that their feet had become cold and painful, and many were developing fungal infections as a result of the humidity.  The Research and Development team of Bata Industrials were determined to find a way to help ease this situation.  But because of the small diameter of the tube which was the only was to access the miners, fitting a shoe down intact was not possible.  The solution for the team at Bata Industrials was to create a shoe which could be sent down in sections and then easily reassembled by the miners.

The result was the creation of a shoe that was collapsible in order to be sent down the narrow tube. The boots featured hydrofugated leather with high water resistance and flexible rubber outsoles and  outer socks which were created using a breathable membrane   As quickly as possible, these elements were created, packaged and sent down the narrow tube to the miners where they were successfully reassembled and worn the by trapped miners.  A picture of part of one of the shoes even made the front page of the Toronto Star when it was sent back up by one of the miner's as a souvenir for his waiting wife!


The Bata Shoe Museum is proud to be able to display an example of these innovative boots.  These boots show how the ingenuity of this development team proved that there really is the right footwear for any situation!

Monday, October 25, 2010

St. Crispin's Day - The Patron Saint of Shoemakers

Today, October 25th, marks St. Crispin's Day, a day that traditionally has been celebrated as the feast day for the patron saints of shoemakers, Saint Crispin and his brother Saint Crispianus.

The story of these two brothers has become somewhat obscured by the passage of time, but legend has it that the two saints were sons of a 3rd century patrician Roman family who converted to Christianity. Disinherited because of their religious choice, they turned to shoemaking to make a living. In order to try to escape the persecution of Christians in Rome. the two brothers moved to Soisson, France where they began preaching and making shoes for the poor. Their charity and pious activities became well known and soon their activities were noticed by Roman authorities had them arrested.

According to legend, the brother's refusal to deny Christianity resulted in numerous tortures. First they were fitted with millstones around their necks and thrown in a river, but miraculously the stones fell away and they swam to safety. Next, they were thrown into a vat of boiling lead, but rather than being harmed, they splashed about like children in the molten metal splattering lead into the eyes of their tormentor, thereby blinding him. Various other tortures were visited upon them but each had no effect until they were finally beheaded on October 25th in the late 3rd century.

In the 6th century, a church was erected in their memory in Soissons. An alter also exists for them in the parish church of Faversham in Kent, England, where another version of the story suggests the brothers escaped and continued to preach and make shoes for the poor.

The brotherly equality, piety and earnest labour of Saints Crispin and Crispianus made them inspiring examples for many European shoemakers and eventually they became known as the patron saints of shoemakers.

One of the most famous moments which calls attention to St. Crispin's Day is the motivational speech from Shakespeare's " Henry V" where the King rallies his troops for the Battle of Agincourt which occurs on St. Crispin's Day.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Footprints of the Napoleonic Wars - Part 2

As well as artefacts from Napoleon and those connected to him, the Museum's collection also boasts personal effects from those who were fighting against him in the Napoleonic Wars.  Two of the United Kingdom's most important military heroes, Arhur Wellesley, Duke of Wellinton and his counterpart on the sea Admiral Horatio Nelson, victor of the Battle of Trafalgar are also represented in our collection.

It was at the Battle of Waterloo in present-day Belgium that Napoleon's tyranny was finally quashed.  The celebrated Duke of Wellington, later Prime Minister of England (1828-30), was known for being a driven leader, indifferent to comfort yet careful in his dress.  In 1815 he penned a short note to Mr. Hoby, his London bootmaker: "The last boots you sent were still too small in the calf of the leg and about an inch and a half too short in the leg.  Send me two pair more altered as I have above directed."  Now in the Museum's collection, this letter marks the point at which boots of this style became known as "Wellingtons", the Duke's unlikely legacy to modern footwear!

This pair of buckles belonged to Lord Nelson, commander at the Battle of Trafalgar, one of the most significant naval victories of the Napoleonic wars, and the battle which claimed Nelson's life.  His remarkable ability to motivate others was the "the Nelson touch" and he was well-respected by sailors and officers alike.

Stored in a smart leather case and finely engraved, Nelson's bejewlled buckles were a 45th birthday gift from the great English seaman, Lord St. Vincent.  They are inscribed "To Admiral Viscount Nelson from St. Vincent, 29 September, 1803."

In the same year, England declared war on France and Lord St. Vincent named Nelson Commander-in-Chief of the Mediterranean.  Later the ornate buckles came into the possession of the great beauty Lady Meux, who caused a stir in London but riding around in her carriage drawn by zebras!  In 1905, she presented the buckles to Lord Charles Beresford, a British Admiral and Member of Parliament.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Footprints of the Napoleonic Wars - Part 1

It would be difficult to overestimate the impact of the Napoleonic Wars (1804-15) on Europe - indeed on the world. The map of Europe was redrawn and the ideals of the French Revolution led to reforms in many countries. In this blog post and the next, we'll look at some artefacts from our collection which provide a glimpse into the real-life details of historical figures from this very important time.

Napoleon Bonaparte, whose large and charismatic personality inspired many, was both celebrated and feared for his brilliant military strategy. He became the most powerful man in France and instituted many social changes, including the Napoleonic Code, a significant factor in establishing the rule of law in may countries. After being defeated at the Battle of Waterloo, the "Emperor or France" ended his days in lonely exile on the British island of St. Helena. One of the Museum's most prized treasures is a pair of Napoleon's socks worn during that six-year period.
Napoleon's socks from his time in exile on St. Helena

Count Walewski's dress shoes reflect a popular fashion of the 1840's
Napoleon's great love for the Polish beauty Countess Marie Walewski was well known. He fondly labelled her his Polish wife and he fathered with her an illegitimate son, Count Alexandre Florian Joseph colonna-Walewski. The Museum has a pair of dress shoes which belonged to Count Walewski. As a publicist, actor, soldier, politician, government minister and ambassador, the Count would have worn shoes such as these on many formal occasions. Much like his father, he took pride in his appearance and in this instance, we see an attention to fashionable trends, evidenced by the silk openwork detailing of the vamp.

Count Colonna-Walewski married his first wife, Catherine Caroline Montagu, daughter of the Ear of Sandwich in 1831. Her elegant pink shoes are part of the Museum's collection and they embody the allure of a delicate countenance. Their rose hue and full bows hint at her fashionable style.

Pink silk shoes belonging to the Count Walewski's first wife, 1830

All images ©2010 Bata Shoe Museum

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Celebrating Celebrity Shoes - Mikhail Baryshnikov

"These plain black oxford platform shoes belie the fascinating story of their entry into the Museum's collection.  Their original owner, Mikahil Baryshnikov was born in Latvia in 1948 and became a soloist with the Kirov Ballet of Leningrad (now St. Petersburg), Russia in 1964.  These are the street shoes he was wearing when he defected from the USSR, seeking political asylum in Toronto in 1974 when the Kirov was touring Canada.  Baryshnikov gave these shoes to a friend who kept them as a memento, eventually donating them to the Museum in 1996. Baryshnikov continued his career in Canada and the United States, going on to become one of contemporary ballet's most well recognized dancers.  "
Ada Hopkins, Conservator

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Shoes Fit For a Princess

The Bata Shoe Museum has in it's collection three pairs of shoes which belonged to the late Princess Lilian of Belgium. Born Mary Lilian Baels in 1916, she was the second wife of HM King Leopold III of Belgium, who reigned from 1934 to 1951.

A 'commoner', Princess Lilian faced criticism from some members of the public. She had secretly married the King in September 1941, not only shortly after the death of the King's popular first wife, but also during World War II, when the country was occupied and the people were suffering.

After the war, King Leopold did not return to the throne. Unable to overcome the nation's negative opinion of his war-time conduct and remarriage, he bestowed his constitutional powers upon his son Baudouin in 1950. The King and Princess Lilian led a quiet life in Argenteuil, travelling and working with charities. It is at philanthropic and social events that the Princess would have worn the shoes acquired by the Museum, with customized and matching Christian Dior outfits.

Princess Lilian was known for her glamour and sense of style, and this is evident in her elegant footwear. The shoes now in the Museum's collection were custom designed for Princess Lilian by Roger Vivier, one of the most innovative shoe designers of the 20th century. He maintained an eye for cutting edge design, referencing the history of fashion while incorporating modern elements of science and engineering. The Museum is delighted to have these shoes, rich in both history and beauty, in its collections.

Photo of King Leopold with Princess Lilian who is wearing a red chiffon dress, hat and the shoes pictured above.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Celebrating Celebrity Shoes - Drew Barrymore

"These black patent Mary Jane shoes were worn by Drew Barrymore to the Youth in Film awards in 1984. I chose to highlight these shoes because they were worn by Barrymore shortly after she starred in the movie "E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial", which was a transformative movie for many people in my generation. E.T. is the first movie that I can ever remember seeing in a movie theatre; watching a young girl that was my age, acting in an extraordinary movie while munching on popcorn was pure magic."
Sarah Beam-Borg, Assistant Curator

Monday, September 6, 2010

"Shoe Stories" Chronicle the Past

When looking at some of the intriguing artefacts in the Bata Shoe Museum, people are often curious to have more information then it's possible for us to provide for each item on display - who did they belong to, what do they tell us about the historical period they came from, what is that shoe's story? Beginning this fall, we're introducing a fascinating series of podcasts which will take an in-depth look at some of the "shoe stories" in our collection. As a sneak peek, here are the stories of two exemplary artefacts.

The cherished footwear of two 17th century ladies reveals the importance of shoes in their lives. This pair of 17th century slap-soled shoes is so exceptional that when the Bata Shoe Museum acquired them at a Sotheby's auction in England, an import license was originally denied on the ground that they were irreplaceable examples of British cultural heritage.

Slapsoles, Possibly made in Italy and worn in England, c.1660's.

These slap-sole shoes were once the property of the descendents of Frances Walsingham, whose secret marriage to Robert Devereux, the last favourite of Queen Elizabeth I, may have contributed to his downfall. The attenuated toes reflect 1660's fashion and suggest they may have been a gift to one of Walsingham's family members during that decade. They certainly must have been considered a prized possession as they have remained in the family of her last husband since the 1600's. Visual evidence of the origin of the slap-sole, which was originally a mule and a heeled sole joined together, almost disappears in this late version of the style. The mule is no longer a structural component of the shoe but is simply indicated by a decorative braid outline.

On the sole of this finely crafted mid-17th century mule is an inscription which reads "Sarah Hammersley, Prince William III".

Mules, England c.1670-89

It has been established that Sarah Hammersley was the daughter of the Lord High Mayor of London, but why does the name of Prince William appear? Prince William of Orange became King William III of England in 1689. This information helps to date the mules to before 1689, but we are still left to ponder what connection Sarah may have had to the Prince. Do these beautifully shaped mules reflect her taste, or that of Prince William?

All images copyright 2010 Bata Shoe Museum

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Adorning the Feet

At the Bata Shoe Museum, as an international centre of footwear research, we house more than just shoes in our collection. Many societies have found other ways to adorn and decorate the foot as a part of traditional culture. An example of this can be seen in our large collection of Indian foot and ankle jewellery.

In the West, sandals were worn by both men and women in the Classical Age, but they fell from favour at the advent of the Middle Ages. For centuries feet remained concealed in shoes and were only revealed when sandals came back into fashion in the 20th century. In many other parts of the world, however, the foot was not so sequestered from view but rather was pampered and even ornamented. In India, women of the upper classes traditionally devoted a great deal of time to the care of their feet. Feet were bathed, massaged with scented oils and the soles were often dyed with red lac or henna. Ankle bracelets and toe rings added the final touches to these pampered feet.

Foot scrubbers, Rajashtan, 19th century (Photo: John Bigelow Taylor)

Footscrubbers were traditionally an important part of an Indian woman's toilette. The base of the bronze scrubbers are typically cast with a rough surface for rubbing the skin while the handles are sculpted to incorporate motifs such as birds, animals and scenes from everyday life.

Ankle Bracelets, India, Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, c. 1900 (Photo: John Bigelow Taylor)

Although women throughout India traditionally wore ankle bracelets, there is a wide range in variations in design. This silver pair (above) features brightly coloured enamel work. Enamel was used extensively in Indian jewellery making to enhance the brilliance and lustre of a woman's embellishment.

Fish toe ring, India, Orissa, Oriyan, 20th century

Toe rings were another favoured foot ornament in traditional Indian culture. The silver fish on the toe ring, which is a sign of fertility and abundance in India, would have seemed to swim with every step the wearer took!

For more information and images relating to traditional Indian footwear and foot adornments visit the exhibit "Paduka: Feet and Footwear in the Indian Tradition" in our virtual museum All About Shoes.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

A Collector's Story

Herbert Levine c.1962-64

One of the questions we get asked most at the Bata Shoe Museum is how we acquire the shoes in our collection. While we collect shoes in a variety of ways, one of the most important is through donations. While museum quality shoes are not easy to come by, some individuals manage to amass beautiful collections of rare and special artefacts. This is the case with collector Katherine Woodward who has donated several beautiful pairs of fashion shoes to the Museum. A shoe enthusiast who lives in Pasadena, California, Katherine was happy to tell us about her history with footwear.

"I loved shoes so much as a kid I insisted on wearing new pairs to bed. I studied fashion merchandising in college and have worked in retail for over 25 years in many capacities including visual display, public relations and sales consulting. While working at Nordstrom and Macy's I collected most of my personal shoe wardrobe. At the start of my fashion career shoes were chosen to complete a look, say a monochromatic colour story. Now I purchase unique, fun shoes with personality that can be worn to make a fashion statement on their own. I see shoes as sculpture more than for adornment or functionality."

Katherine, who studied fashion in college, has donated seven pairs of designer shoes to the Bata Shoe Museum. Once her collection grew too large for her home display space she contacted the Bata Shoe Museum about donating some of her best items to ensure they were properly cared for and preserved. Her donations have been a great addition to our collection and have appeared in multiple exhibitions. One pair is currently on display in our "Fashion Afoot" display, and has the distinction of being Katherine's first major find. These blue sling-backs, designed by Charles Jourdan for Pierre Cardin, were found by Katherine in a thrift store for only $20.00 in 1992!

Pierre Cardin c. 1967-68

Some other amazing finds Katherine has made are 3 pairs of Roger Vivier shoes (her favourite designer) for $20.00 each in a vintage boutique in South Pasadena, California. Her luck at finding shoes of this quality at these prices shows what you can find when you look hard enough! Katherine was kind enough to donate one of these amazing pairs and a matching handbag to the Museum where they appeared in our "Icons of Elegance" display and accompanying catalogue.

Roger Vivier c.1966-68

Katherine's passion for shoe collection continues today as she keeps her eyes open for the next find great find. Still on the list - her first pair of Ferragamos!

All images copyright 2010 Bata Shoe Museum

Monday, August 23, 2010

Celebrating Celebrity Shoes - Elizabeth Taylor

"Elizabeth Taylor, one of the great actresses of Hollywood's golden age, has lived a life epitomizing the glamour and drama of the movie business.  From her legendary roles such as Cleopatra, her much publicized romances (and many marriages!), and her lifelong involvement in charitable works, Taylor's life has been as dramatic and remarkable as any of the many movies in which she has starred.  These glamourous silver sandals owned and worn by Elizabeth Taylor remind me of why the public continues to be intrigued and fascinated by the lives and loves of Hollywood stars."
Nicole Cahill, Marketing and Public Relations Coordinator

These autographed strappy silver stiletto sandals were designed by Halston and owned and worn by Elizabeth Taylor in the early 1980's.

Collection of the Bata Shoe Museum

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Conserving History

Shoes pre-conservation
As our special exhibition "On a Pedestal: From Renaissance Chopines to Baroque Heels" comes to an end, the many rare and precious artefacts in it will be returned to either the European museums who generously loaned them to us or to the storage rooms of the Bata Shoe Museum. When presenting an exhibit which displays such rare and fragile items, it often means some of the artefacts will need to conserved and repaired in order to keep them in the best condition possible. This was the case with this pair of 17th century slapsole shoes. Among many of the conservation efforts made in this exhibition was a repair to the delicate 17th century fabric of these shoes.

These shoes had suffered serious fabric losses to both sides of the vamp (the upper part of a boot or shoe covering the instep and usually extending over the toe), as well as minor fabric losses along the topline. The silver filament metallic lace had unraveled around the corners of the toes and the backs of the heels. Our conservator, Ada Hopkins, needed to find a way to create a fabric which could be used to fill in these losses but not look out of place on a 17th century shoe.

In order to achieve this, a silk satin of similar weight was dyed in a hot bath of Earl Grey tea which was historically used to dye small batches of textiles and lace made from natural fibres. This method gives a pinky-yellow faded-antique colour to the bright white silk. Strands of hair silk were dyed to match in the same manner. Dyed fabric for each shoe was cut using templates which had been created by placing small pieces of plastic over the area of loss and tracing the outline. Next, tiny strips of an adhesive film were cut to the shape of the existing satin. The fabric infill was then inserted along with adhesive strips which are vapour activated. Any frayed fibres which had not been secured were then stitched into place using the hair silk.

Back seam of shoe
During the conservation of this shoe, a small treasure, a tiny section of the original coloured fabric which had not been changed by the effects of time, was discovered on the back seam of the heel. These unusual shoes were originally peachy-pink with shiny silver lace that would have glittered when exposed to the candlelight in the wearer's room!

This rare pair of 17th century slapsoles can be seen on display in "On a Pedestal" only until September 20th, 2010.
Slapshoes after conservation

All images (c) 2010 Bata Shoe Museum

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

"Art to Boot" at the Bata Shoe Museum

Today is the first day of a new "snapshot" exhibition on display in our B1 foyer. Snapshot exhibitions are small-scale themed displays, on view for a limited amount of time. We are proud to have one of our favourite annual snapshot exhibitions on right now, "Art to Boot", a collection of artist- designed Blundstone boots which will be auctioned off as a fundraiser for Sketch, a wonderful organization which creates art making opportunities for  street-involved and homeless youth or those who are considered to be at risk.

Judging Day at the Sketch loft

The Sketch experience starts at the organization's offices, where our Assistant Curator Sarah Beam-Borg is one of the judges in the Blundstone boot design competition. After spending some time in Sketch's amazing light-filled King Street loft, which is full of the incredible artwork of youth artists who benefit from this organization, the 20 pairs of Blundstones were transfered back to the Bata Shoe Museum to be prepared to exhibition.

Assistant Curator Sarah Beam-Borg puts the finishing touches on the "Art to Boot" exhibition. 

Until September 22nd, these art pieces will be on display as part of regular admission to the Bata Shoe Museum. They will then be auctioned off at an event at the Gladstone Hotel on September 23rd.  For more pics of this year's boots check out our Facebook page.

Just two of the 20 pairs of artist-designed Blundstones now on display

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Celebrating Celebrity Shoes - Tennis Edition!

This week, in celebration of the Rogers Cup, Canada's major tennis open, the Bata Shoe Museum is excited to show you two special pairs of shoes belonging to two men who are a part of tennis and sports history as one of the 20th century's great athletic rivalries!

"Bj√∂rn Borg vs. John McEnroe, two of the best tennis players ever, met a total of 14 times between 1978 and 1981. To the pre-teen boy I was then they embodied what sport and life was all about. A Borg-McEnroe match-up was an athletic contest, but more fascinating still were the contrasting styles in which they played the game: the Swede always calm and collected; the American throwing tantrums and spitting insults at umpires. For me it wasn’t –and isn’t- a matter of choosing a favourite. What I admired in both of them was their total commitment to playing their best game, and the respect they showed each other."
Roger Hunziker, Education and Public Programs Coordinator

These tennis shoes were owned and worn by the two tennis greats - Borg on the left and McEnroe on the right. The shoes from Borg were bought at auction. The shoes from McEnroe were presented to Mrs. Sonja Bata at the Players International Champoinship (now the Rogers Cup) in 1984 at the National Tennis Centre, York University Toronto. He explained to Mrs. Bata that the shoes had a cut in them which he had made himself due to a foot problem.

Both shoes are signed and are part of the collection of the Bata Shoe Museum.

Check out these two amazing players battling it out in one of their most famous matches.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Celebrating Celebrity Shoes - Madonna

"When I used to show visitors these shoes during tours, everyone was very impressed that they were worn by Madonna. But what always surprised people was that underneath the shoe, connecting the sole to the heel was a metal reinforcment put there so that the shoes were strong enough for Madonna to perform in them. I think this says a lot about the apparently effortlessness image of glitz and glamour that celebrities project and the much grittier work involved in keeping that image alive."
Anne Cobban, Director of Development

Madonna's ability to maintain a cutting-edge image combined with her versatile musical style, has made her a superstar for over 20 years. A great admirer of the fashion designers Dolce&Gabbana, Madonna's wardrobe features many of their daring desidesigns, such as this platform shoe that she wore in the mid-1990's. These satin platform pumps have the word "Mo" written on the label in black ink.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Celebrating Celebrity Shoes

What can be more intimate or revealing than footwear? Not much. So it's no wonder that the Museum's semi-permanent celebrity exhibition, Star Turns, is extremely popular with visitors. Celebrities from all walks of life have left a footprint in our collection, and with the Toronto International Film Festival quickly approaching, the timing was perfect to ask the staff at the Bata Shoe Museum to select their favourite celebrity shoe and share some insight on why that shoe stands out to them

Starting tomorrow don't miss your chance to "step into" the Bata Shoe Museum and our celebrity collection!

Whose shoe do you think will be the first to take centre stage?

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Star Gazing at the BSM!

Welcome to the first blog entry by the staff of the Bata Shoe Museum! Here in Toronto we are gearing up for the annual Toronto International Film Festival which always sets the city on high celebrity alert! In celebration of this, we are going to be taking a look at some of the celebrity shoes in our collection which we display at various times in our "Star Turns" gallery. Over the next few weeks you'll see some of the favourite picks of our staff members and learn why they picked that particular shoe as a standout in our collection. Who'll make the cut and what's the story behind that particular shoe? Check back to find out!