The Chopine!

Manolo says, ayyy! The Manolo is now officially desperate to go to Toronto.

Given current fashion’s infatuation with freaky footwear, “On A Pedestal: From Renaissance Chopines to Baroque Heels,” an exhibition that opened at the Bata Shoe Museum last week and runs until Sept. 20, 2010, couldn’t be more apropos.
16th Century Venetian Chopine
A powerhouse show featuring rarities from around the world, it focuses on a couple of the most extreme styles ever to have shod fashionable extremities: the chopine, a kind of platform mule that, around from antiquity, peaked in 16th- century Italy, and the high heel, which by the 17th-century became the preferred mode in elevation.

When it comes to platforms and heels, the runways of the world have lately offered up some real doozies.

Sure, they say kitten heels and clogs are coming back, but the most talked-about shoes of the spring collections were the claw-shaped numbers with 25-centimetre heels worn at Alexander McQueen and sported by Lady Gaga in her “Bad Romance” video.

For outrageousness, however, the past trumps the present. Surely her Ladyship would die to get her hands on the 17th-century chopines, more than 50 centimetres in height, that the Bata has on loan from a museum in Venice and that are making its first and last appearance outside that city.17th Century Swedish Chopine.   Manolo Likes!  Click!

In Renaissance Italy, these contraptions, made of white kid leather over wood and looking like skeletal limbs, were not meant to be visible. Out of sight under long skirts, they were a means to lengthen a figure to allow more room for the display of sumptuous cloth. Nevertheless, chopines could be very pretty, as evidenced in a pair of velvet beauties daintily decorated with lace and tassels.

The Bata Shoe Museum is already one of the Manolo’s favorite places in the whole world, but now he is ready to brave Toronto in the depths of frosty winter to see the spectacular shoes which are on display .

P.S. Many thanks to the Manolo’s internet friend, the shoe-obsessed Wayne.

11 Responses to “The Chopine!”

  1. Marg December 1, 2009 at 8:12 pm #

    The Manolo is very welcome to visit Toronto! And he will be glad to hear that it is not all that cold here… In fact, although you would need a warm coat, this is the very first year ever that we had no snow in November (actually a bad sign due to global warming). The Bata Shoe Museum is indeed one of our treasures.

  2. ChristianeF December 1, 2009 at 8:50 pm #

    Those chopines are pretty amazing. I don’t know if I could even lift my leg with my foot encased in them! Though, I suppose that’s the point. If I could afford fancy shoes with 50 cm platforms, I could probably afford to have myself carried anywhere I wanted to go.

  3. Rondi December 2, 2009 at 7:56 am #

    I would be most thrilled were I to run into the Manolo while running my errands! And the Marg is correct — we had an unusually warm November. Now I must endeavour to visit this wonderful exhibit (and blog about it, of course).

  4. shoelover December 2, 2009 at 10:24 am #

    Shoelover has a bed to spare in Toronto

  5. Francesca December 2, 2009 at 12:29 pm #

    i love those shoes. That museum sounds AWESOME!

    xoxo,
    F

    lekisskiss.blogspot.com <–two girls blogging fashion in ny and chicago!

  6. agirl December 2, 2009 at 1:54 pm #

    What are those things in that first pic?

  7. Gina December 2, 2009 at 6:35 pm #

    I wonder if the Manolo has ever been to the shoe and boot museum in Northampton. I went there when I visited England in 2008.

  8. raincoaster December 2, 2009 at 10:00 pm #

    If you are willing to go to Toronto, you MUST be desperate!

  9. La Petite Acadienne December 3, 2009 at 10:13 am #

    Here now, raincoaster. Don’t you go ruining our reputation of being polite to a fault. ;)

    Toronto’s fun — it doesn’t have the character of some of the other big cities in Canada, but it’s fun to visit.

  10. raincoaster December 5, 2009 at 10:45 pm #

    Toronto’s fun, yes. If you were raised in Sudbury.

  11. Lindsey Cochran December 6, 2009 at 1:52 pm #

    I’m always strangely gratified to be reminded that as outrageous as styles may become today, there are even more breathtaking, daring, and adventurous shoes to be discovered in the past. The new Alexander McQueen shoe is rightfully turning heads, but as near as I can make out from the construction, it is simply a platform shoe with a illusion inducing silhouette. (And isn’t that what fashion is about: inducing illusions?)

    Thanks for the tip on the Bata Shoe Museum having these chopines on display. Certainly worth a mention on my own blog.