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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Out of the box: Sneaker culture exhibit at the Bata Shoe Museum

   One-Tank Trip for Jan. 18/14

   (c) By Jim Fox

   A visit to the Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto is good for the sole.
   This is a great time to “sneak” a peak as the current exhibition is Out of the Box: The Rise of Sneaker Culture.
   At the shrine to the evolution of footwear over 4,500 years, the exhibition explores the history of the sneaker.
A pair of “exceptionally rare” Nike Lebron James’ Stewie sneakers from 2009 is part of the sneaker culture exhibition. (Jim Fox photo)
   And, Elvis sang about not stepping on his blue suede shoes, but instead has a pair of loafers among the celebrity footgear on show here.
   Information with Marilyn Monroe’s red leather stilettos quoted her saying: “I don’t know who invented high heels, but all women owe him a lot.”
   The museum on Bloor Street is “cultural gem” in a four-storey, shoe-box-like structure designed by famed architect Raymond Moriyama.
   It all came about from the shoe fascination of Sonja Bata who developed a “keen interest” in all things shoes after marrying shoemaker Thomas Bata.
   This led to the creation of the museum that now has a collection of 13,000 shoes and related artifacts.
   It “celebrates the style and function of footwear” in four galleries, with displays ranging from Chinese bound-foot shoes and ancient Egyptian sandals to chestnut-crushing clogs and glam platforms.
   There’s a collection of celebrity shoes while three other galleries feature changing exhibitions, with always something new to see.
The Bata Shoe Museum is in a shoe-box-like structure designed by architect Raymond Moriyama.
   Out of the box
   The history of sneaker culture continues through March 30 with some 120 running shoes from the past 150 years.
   Now termed a “status symbol and icon of urban culture,” the historical beginnings of the sneaker are shown from its emergence in the 19th century to becoming “one of the most democratic forms of footwear” in the 20th century.
   On view are some of the rarest sneakers from the archives of Adidas, Nike, Reebok, PUMA, Converse and England’s Northampton Museums and Art Gallery, with the largest collection of historical footwear in the world.
Justin Bieber’s burgundy high top Supra SkyTop II sneakers are displayed at the Toronto museum. (Jim Fox photo)
   On loan are shoes from rap music legends Run DMC, sneaker guru Bobbito Garcia aka Kool Bob Love and Dee Wells from OSD (Obsessive Sneaker Disorder).
   Visitors can see limited editions such as the Nike Dunk Supremes and LeBron James’ Stewies along with the latest from fashion designers, including Christian Louboutin, Pierre Hardy, Lanvin and Prada.
   The exhibit says the sneaker dates back to the mid-19th century when it “emerged from a confluence of technological advancements and profound cultural shifts.”
   The first sneakers were called plimsoles but by 1873 the term sneaker had been coined.
   By the mid-20th century, the “pursuit of bodily perfection took on nationalistic overtones” and the sneaker became firmly entrenched in the wardrobe of millions.
   “The ‘Me Generation’ of the 1970s shifted the focus of fitness from cultivating group identity to the pursuit of individual success and high-end athletic footwear became signifiers of conspicuous consumption.”
   It was the embrace of the basketball shoe in American urban centres, however, at the end of the century that would give rise to sneaker culture and transform it into the icon that it is today.
   The exhibition was designed by Karim Rashid who said he has “always been very interested in the sneaker since I am a true believer of the age of casualism.”
The Bata Shoe Museum displays a pair of Marilyn Monroe’s “sexy, red leather stiletto-heeled shoes” she wore in 1957 in Montreal. (Jim Fox photo)
   At the Footprints on the World Stage exhibit is an introduction to an array of footwear worn by icons.
   These include Queen Victoria’s ballroom slippers, Robert Redford’s cowboy boots, Elton John’s monogrammed silver platform boots, Terry Fox’s running shoe, Karen Kain’s ballet shoes and John Lennon’s Beatle boot.
Don’t step on Elvis’ blue suede shoes or in this case his white-and-blue patent loafers worn in the early 1970s during his Las Vegas performances. (Jim Fox photo)
   There is also footwear from Pierre Trudeau, Madonna, Roger Federer, Napoleon, Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor and Pierce Brosnan.

   Need to know
   More than a million people have visited the museum since it opened in 1995 at 327 Bloor St. W. in Toronto.
   Hours are Monday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., except Thursdays until 8 p.m., and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m.
   Admission is $14, adults; $12, seniors; $8, students; $5, children five to 5 to 17; $24 and $35 for family passes. Thursdays from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. are “pay what you can” to get in.
   Details: batashoemuseum.ca; (416) 979 -7799


Jim Fox can be reached at onetanktrips@hotmail.com
For more One-Tank Trips: http://1tanktrips.blogspot.ca

1 comment:

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