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At the Bata Shoe Museum, Heels Make the Man

IN A NEW EXHIBITION MARKING THE 20TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE BATA SHOE MUSEUM, HEELS—PARTICULARLY THOSE WORN BY MEN—ARE A VERY BIG DEAL

Bata Shoe Museum heels

This “Justin” packer boot and Ferradini shoe—the latter once worn by Elton John—are among the artifacts on display in the Bata Shoe Museum heels-for-men exhibition (photos: Ron Wood)

STARTS MAY 8 The Bata Shoe Museum officially kicks off its 20th-anniversary year by doing what it does best: using footwear to provoke discussion about history, cultural norms and contemporary notions of identity. Its latest showcase, “Standing Tall,” looks at heeled shoes and boots, and how men have worn them over the last 400 years. Though today we may think of men wearing heels as a dramatic affectation—the purview of drag performers, for example—their march across time has been far more complex. Think of European aristocrats, whose heels literally conveyed their elevated status. Consider rock stars like Elton John and David Bowie, who wore flamboyant platform shoes on stage. Or take that symbol of hyper-masculinity, the cowboy, whose boot heels help him stay in the stirrups while on horseback. Their stories and many others are told through this unique exhibition’s heightened artifacts.  —Craig Moy

• Bata Shoe Museum, 327 Bloor St. W., 416-979-7799; batashoemuseum.com
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