New Acquisitions – Versace

Cataloguing involves a close examination of each item. Recording the features of design, history, provenance, material, construction and dimensions are all part of the cataloguing process.

Bringing new and important new works in to the collection is an important part of the Bata Shoe Museum’s mandate. This year the museum has been very fortunate to bring the work of Salehe Bembury into the collection. This week I have been cataloguing the sample shoes he had shipped to us from his office in the US. Bembury is the Vice President of sneakers and men’s footwear at Milan-based Gianni Versace S.r.l., better known simply as Versace, and he has been designing footwear for the firm since 2017. These are the first Versace pieces in the Bata Shoe Museum’s collection.

Bembury’s Squalo design for Versace. You can see the raised white braille lettering on the vamp, which spells out ‘Love’. In cataloguing the examples of his Squalo and Chain Reaction designs, the details like materials, construction, finishes and measurements are all recorded to the artefact database. These high-end samples are made in Italy and feature complex construction and top-quality materials. In the photos above, you can see the Squalo collection includes a separate sole so we can really see the inner workings of the shoe’s construction. The shark inspiration really shows in the angles and shapes throughout the design.

An overview of Bembury’s Chain Reaction design, including a top view of the separate sole component. The Chain Reaction sneaker is another Bembury classic. Note: the top-notch materials; the separate sole shows how that big design can remain so lightweight and check out the incredible construction detail on this style.

A close-up of the quarters on the Chain Reaction sneaker, designed by Salehe Bembury. This shoe is now part of the Bata Shoe Museum collection.

The ends of shoe laces are called ‘aglets’. The Versace Chain Reaction sneaker features an innovative detail on the aglets.

The heel area on the outsole of Chain Reaction has important subtle details, including this signature Medusa head which is the signature of the Versace brand.

Salehe Bembury has been named the 2020 Designer of the Year by Footwear News (FN), and he will be honored in December at the first virtual FN Achievement Awards.

Suzanne Petersen, Collections Manager

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