Thursday, September 22, 2016


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Sheltered by shoes, bunions + heel spurs + ingrown nails + assorted afflictions plague the shoe-wearing population, with 70-80% suffering from podiatric predicaments. In a thoughtfully crafted assemblage, Toronto's Bata Shoe Museum examines the perils and pragmatism of 19th century style through Fashion Victims: The Pleasures and Perils of Dress in the 19th CenturyUntil January 2017, visit the top floor to see surprising samples of the risks and rewards of contrived couture, from the lens of both consumers and producers. Keep reading for a look inside... 

François Pinet footwear; At one point, Pinet employed 700+ embroiderers 

Crisp checkered floors surround chestnut colored cases brandishing 19th century style paired with hints of history. Construction, comfort, complexity and color highlight shifts in production from handmade to machine made. Embellishment and expense are high priority as 'one of a million' is transformed into 'one in a million.' By the time the gilded age came around, "mass-production had radically democratized fashion," angering the elite, who demanded details be hand added to mass-produced fashion [source: exhibit text].

Installation view of gilded age embellished shoes

Ninety artifacts from the Museum's collection supplemented with loaned items reveal a seductive style story through tailoring, textiles and tantalizing truths. Corsets and narrow shoes show how "18th century-inspired fashion reinforced negative notions about women as slaves to fashion. It also helped to frame women's role as consumers rather than producers" [source: exhibit text]. The toxicity of Arsenic comes to light when those who used its brilliant pigment fall ill or die. Likewise, mercury poisoning and flammable fabrics haunt headlines as experimental fashion carves a course through the 1900s.
Feeling the Pinch

Curated by Elizabeth Semmelhack and Alison Matthews David, the exhibition expertly encapsulates the exigencies involved in furnishing fashion. Changing perspectives and lessons learned then provide precedents for advancing the attire of today. Stop by, if you happen to be in the Toronto area! 
Very Narrow Ballet slippers

Emerald Green Victorian dress; the color keeps its bright color in natural and gas lighting

Watch your step

Examples of "Terrible Tints"

"There are many terrible things even now to be found among the repertory of the leaders of fashion--agonies in red, livid horrors in green, ghastly lilacs and monstrous mauves." 
-Dictionary of Victorian Slang, 1909

L.P. Perchellet boot (French, 1875); the original shoe box was edged with arsenical tape

Boudoir slippers (1880-1885)

Highly polished red boots that belonged to the Grand Écuyer of Napoleon III

gilded slip ons

Unique shoes in sizes S, M and L


Back room installation view

Window to celebrate the Bata Shoe Museum's 20th anniversary

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