• These Chopines Weren't Made for Walking: Precarious Platforms for Aristocratic Feet How far would you go to reach the pinnacle of fashion? While the current craze for heel-less, "anti-gravity" shoes might seem avant-garde, or even dangerous, women have worn challenging footwear for centuries. In fact, though most think Lady Gaga's stilted look started the latest anti-gravity trend, the pop star's precarious platforms were actually inspired by elaborate 16th-century chopines. "…
  • Sex, Power, and High Heels: An Interview with Shoe Curator Elizabeth Semmelhack I came to the Bata Shoe Museum as a cultural art historian with a strong interest in things that are made for immediate consumption. Unlike a sculpture or painting that's intended to stand the test of time and is one person's unique vision, shoes are made to meet the needs of somebody who's situated within a particular society at a particular moment in time. For that reason, shoes serve as interes…
  • Shoe Collector Jonathan Walford on Why Footwear Is So Seductive I moved to Toronto in the early 1980s because I wanted to work at the Royal Ontario Museum, which had a costume and textiles department. A job came up at the Bata Shoe Museum, so I ended up working there as the assistant curator and then as curator. Shoes were thrust upon me; they were not something I initially chose. At Bata, I had 11 years of experience working with shoes on a daily basis…
  • Our Bodies, Our Stilettos Behold the power of the stiletto heel. Despite all the advances women have made, it's one fetish we can't seem to escape, a paradox epitomized by "Sex and the City." The characters embodied a late-'90s vision of independent women, enjoying the spoils of feminism: They had the financial power to support themselves, and the personal freedom to sleep around. Yet, they turned into swooning schoolgirls…