Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Halloween From the Feet Up!

Here at the Bata shoe Museum we thought that we would try and provide some inspiration from our collection for those of you still struggling to find the perfect Halloween costume.  And of course, we are a bit biased about the most important part of any outfit! We asked our Assistant Curator and Exhibition Manager Sarah Beam-Borg to pick some fun and unique artifacts that will inspire you this Halloween!

This pair of red and green shoes were reportedly worn in the late 20th century by a clown in the Barnum and Bailey circus.  With their exaggerated wide toes and mismatched colours it would be impossible to avoid getting caught up in the clowning mood.

This shoe with it's exotic three dimensional dragon’s heads in multicoloured appliqu├ęd leather.  They were made by British shoe designer Thea Cadabra in 1984 and would turn any wearer into a dragoness.

In the middle of the 19th century, men and women often went to “fancy dress” balls where they would wear elaborate costumes or disguises.  It was not uncommon to embellish pre-existing clothing that had fallen out of fashion and was no longer in use.  This pair of white silk Adelaide boots features beaded domino designs that would have undoubtedly matched her dress.

Tall, thick leather boots like this pair were worn by Postillions who were the coachmen that rode on the horses as guides from the 17th through the 19th centuries throughout Western Europe.  The boots were considered part of the saddle equipment and protected the men’s legs from horses and low-lying branches.

As you can see these grey and yellow shoes with red taillights have been influenced heavily by the design aesthetic prevalent in the American automotive industry in the 1950s.  The possibilities with these shoes are endless and they would look great with a vintage dress.

Dressing up like a glam Rock Star from the 70s is always a popular costume choice for men at Halloween.  This pair of boots was made by boot-maker Master John in 1973 and was worn in Toronto.

Halloween is for kids of all ages but most commonly, the under-twelve set get all the good candy!  This pair of children’s sneakers from 1982 would have been a fun and sensible addition to an Incredible Hulk costume.

We hope that these choices give you the inspiration to create the perfect Halloween costume this year - from your feet up! 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Socks: Between You and Your Shoes - Part 1

By Senior Curator Elizabeth Semmelhack

Here in Canada the time of year has arrived when we add something to our wardrobes which have been absent for some months - socks! What is cosier than slipping into a pair of hand-knit socks.  But socks are not just for warmth - for thousands of years, people around the world have sought to separate themselves from their shoes with all manner of shoes.  Some are humble, some are splendid, but all were created to make us more comfortable as we walk through life.

Replica of Otzi man's shoe, 2002
When the 5300 year old Otzi man's body was found in the Alps in 1991, not only has his body been preserved but so had his clothing, including his shoes and 'socks'. The socks were really bunches of grass that Otzi had stuffed into a netting made of linden bast.  Dr. Peter Hlavacek, the Czech researcher who had worked on the Otzi mans's shoes, made this replica for himself to see how well the shoes and grass functioned.  After hiking in his replica shoe, Hlavacek said that the grass worked very well as an insulator and wicked moisture away from his feet.  Grass has been used by many different peoples around the world either simply stuffed into their shoes, or intricately woven into socks.

Possibly Spanish , 17th century
Knitting was introduced into Europe by the Moors who rules Spain from the 8th to the 15th centuries.  Finely knit silk stockings became a highly desirable Spanish speciality.  Queen Elizabeth is said to have declared that she would never again wear linen hose after trying on a pair of Spanish silk stockings.  This pair of hand-knit silk stockings is probably Spanish and was made to be worn by a very wealthy child.  The stockings were made using sold threads that had been dyed red, which was the most expensive dye in the 17th century.  The use of silver and gold gilt thread also suggests that the wearer was well off. 

Check back next week as we continue to trace the history of socks!