“One of the best ways of damning a woman is saying she wears practical shoes,” said Elizabeth Semmelhack, senior curator at Toronto’s Bata Shoe Museum. ‘On a Pedestal,’ a museum exhibit, examined two of the most extreme forms of Western footwear, the chopine and its successor, the high heel.
The sex appeal of the clunky chopine may not be immediately apparent, but it embodies the same ideals a pair of six-inch Louboutins do today, a simultaneous sense of power and that stalwart of femininity: impracticality. No sensible shoes here
Toronto’s Bata Shoe Museum’s exhibition “On a Pedestal: From Renaissance Chopines to Baroque Heels” ran from November 19, 2009 to September 20, 2010.
(pictured below) Venetian chopines, 16th century, on loan from Museo Palazzo Mocenigo, Venice, Italy
The tallest chopines come from Venice. Some, such as this pair, have pedestals measuring over 50 cm in height. These chopines corroborate the visual and textual evidence suggesting that some women actually wore chopines of such towering heights. This pair has been conserved for this exhibition but will not be allowed to travel again. This pair has been conserved for this exhibition but will not be allowed to travel again. Photograph © Fondazione Musei Civici di Venezia
(pictured below) Milanese chopines, 16th century, on loan from Castello Sforzesco, Milan, Italy
These chopines are typically Italian in design. Their bases are of carved pine, tapering in the middle and flaring at the base to provide greater stability and are covered in white kid. The uppers are decorated with cutwork in patterns reminiscent of lace from the same period. Civiche Raccolte d’Arte Applicata – Castello Sforzesco, Milan. All rights reserved