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.

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