Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Roaring Twenties Opening - by Guest blogger Florence McCambridge

The Roaring Twenties: Heels, Hemlines and High Spirits

After the initial excitement of being invited to the Bata Shoe Museum for the launch of the new Roaring Twenties exhibition wore off, the fear set in: I had no idea what to wear.  I went through my closet and quickly discovered that I didn't own much of anything inspired by the twenties.  Still, I did the best that I could with what I had and made my way to the event this past Tuesday night.

As I walked through the main entrance of the shoebox-shaped building, I was immediately greeted with the music of Liberty Silver and the Jazz Kats, which set the perfect tone for the evening.  I sipped on a sweet sugar-rimmed Parisian Sidecar cocktail and moved through the crowd made up of mostly women dressed in their best flapper looks.  There were glittering headbands, endless strands of pearls, and of course, sparkling shoes to finish the whole look off.

Parisian Sidecars were the featured cockta
Liberty Silver and the Jazz Kats

After nibbling on some delicious hors d'oeuvres and listening to the introductions of the night, a couple of Charleston dancers led the way up the stairs to the exhibition, and I followed closely behind them.

In her introduction, Sonja Bata said that the Bata Shoe Museum used shoes to tell you about another time period, and this was definitely true of "The Roaring Twenties: Heels, Hemlines and High Spirits".

Spectator Shoes - Hellstern and Sons, French late 1920s
I went in not knowing much about the 20s other than what I'd read in the The Great Gatsby and various Coco Chanel biographies, and I would have never imagined that I would have anything in common with the women of that time.  But as I glanced down at a pair of menswear inspired shoes that looked eerily like a pair that I currently own, I realized that we were more alike than I thought.

 The exhibition allows you to get up close to the glittering heels and the floral and textured fabrics of the shoes.  You learn all about the footwear designer Andre Perugia and about why T-strap shoes were invented (hint: it has to do with dancing the Charleston!).  And most importantly, you get to see what life was like for the women of  the 1920s  in the most entertaining way possible,which is through their shoes of course!

Shoes and shoebox by Andre Perguia, French, 1920s
And it doesn't have to end when you leave the exhibition.  The Bata Shoe Museum also has a lecture and movie series to let you get even deeper into the Roaring Twenties.  You can take in an illustrated talk by any of the scheduled speakers, or you can watch a movie set in the 1920s, such as La Vie En Rose, Coco Chanel and Igor Stravinsky, and Some Like It Hot.

On my way home I remembered something that Liberty Silver said in between songs.  She was talking about the twenties and asked the audience "Can you imagine yourself back then?" Originally my answer was no, but after taking in the exhibition I think that I can.

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Roaring Twenties Opening - by Guest blogger Caitlin Dyer

Roaring Twenties Exhibit Opening is the Bees Knees!

On Tuesday, April 12th, 2001, the Bata Shoe Museum kicked off their new exhibit on the Roaring Twenties with a bang!  The glitz and glamour of the 1920's was taken to heart both by staff and guests, who turned up in their best Jazz Age outfits.  Sidecars, a cocktail which originated in the 1920's, were on offer alongside fabulous appetizers provided by Encore Catering.  Guests were serenaded by the sultry sounds of JUNO Award winning artist Liberty Silver and the Jazz Kats while costumed dancers demonstrated the Charleston.  If that wasn't enough to keep you entertained, silent films from the 1920's were projected on the wall.

To offcially kick off the evening we heard from the MC Jaymz Bee, Fashion Magazine editor Bernadette Mora, Senior Curator Elizabeth Semmelhack and the Museum's founder Mrs. Sonja Bata.  You see Mrs. Bata's remarks here.  We were then 'danced' up the stairs to the exhibit.

The exhibit itself was the best part of the evening for me.  As a lover of shoes and a public historian there is nothing I like better than history presented through shoes!  The exhibit chronicles the rise of the flapper and the greater freedoms that women enjoyed during the 20's as exemplified through spectator sport, bathing and dancing shoes.  Visitors are able to compare the fashion of the 20's to conservative boots from the preceding decade and the escapist metallic leather shoes of the Depression years.  This elegant travelling wardrobe full of shoes in like art for the shoe lover and my favourite part of the exhibit, second only to these sparkly t-strap pumps.

Perugia shoe box and shoes
Louis Vuitton shoe trunk

Overall, the evening was a roaring success.  The projections, music, dancing and themed drinks set the mood and the exhibit itself was the icing on the cake.  Or should I say the bees knees?!