There are very few women who can walk past a shoe store without at least glancing at the window display. I am not exactly sure at what age we develop the shoe gene, but it is one of the most prolific and easiest ways to discern a woman, or gay man, for that matter. I am thinking therefore perhaps we are born with this pre-disposition. It’s hard to say.
What better place to celebrate the love of all things shod than the Bata Shoe Museum. I’ve been by this holy temple countless times, but it was only today that I managed to penetrate its cozy cocoon. Architecturally speaking, the building itself is very pleasing, with an open staircase encircling a central atrium that spans 4 floors. But let’s face it – if I had to choose a shoe time period, the current exhibit showcasing the 1920’s wins, hands down. No expense spared on both beauty and function – those flappers had more moves than Jagger!
The museum itself is segregated into multiple sections. In the basement, there is an extensive display of footwear throughout the ages, covering both ancient and modern civilizations. Did you know that only the Pope can have a cross on his shoes? There is also an interactive screen that lets you design your own shoes by choosing various key elements, such as the type of heel, fabric, and, of course, bling. Ah, good times!
One floor up brings you the dichotomy of the Dalai Lama’s flip flops next to Elton John’s gigantic platforms and Shaq’s even bigger sneakers. There are also several dress-up play areas for kids to unleash their inner Gaga – luckily for me, there was no age limit.
On the second floor I encountered two temporary exhibits – one on native North American footwear, and the other on The Roaring Twenties. It was interesting to note the subtle differences and varieties in the native footwear. You might even think these were the original people to pimp something out with all the colour and bling involved. I mean, they even beaded the underside of their moccasins. I’m sensing an entirely neglected market here… Manola, take note!
I have to hand it to the 1920’s fashionistas, though. For someone who travels as much as I do, having a single pair of pumps with interchangeable bedazzled heels? Sheer genius! I am not worthy. I also coveted the red rocket sexy number that would sell like hotcakes even now, some 90 years later, and not just to Jessica Rabbit. Va va va voom!
On the third floor is a fascinating painting and sculpture homage to all things shoe related. I saw some things that truly made the balls of my feet quiver simultaneously in both awe and horror.
Overall, I give it two toes up, assuming your little piggies are back from the market.
For the remainder of the images below, see if you can match the caption to the pic:
The original Transformer / Me-ow! / HOW big are your shoes? / Even Lady Gaga might give these a pass / Who you calling a loafer?