Put on your walking shoes and step into a floral wonderland. The Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto is opening their latest exhibition, “In Bloom: Flowers and Footwear.” Just in time for spring, this exhibition celebrates the timeless connection between fashion and nature.

Director and Senior Curator, Elizabeth Semmelhack is excited by the new exhibition and is sure visitors will be, too. “Flowers can be uplifting and calming, providing a sense of wonder and renewal; sentiments that we are all searching for right now.”

This showcase is a perfect blend of history and beauty, with each footwear artifact paired with one or more botanicals. You’ll learn about the origins and meanings behind each of the 25 floral and natural material variations, including hydrangea, peony, iris, and tulip. For example, did you know that during the Second World War, shoemakers had to turn to cork and grass for fashionable women’s footwear, including platforms?

What’s even more exciting is that the museum has collaborated with three Indigenous guest curators, including anthropologist Linda Sioui, beadwork artist and curator Paula Menarick, and Camina Weasel Moccasin, curator from the Galt Museum & Archives in Alberta. Together, they’ve selected three floral moccasins, representing a total of nine pairs in the exhibition.

But let’s not forget about the highlight of the exhibition, the shoes themselves! You’ll see sandals designed by Yves Saint Laurent in 1986 that make the wearer’s feet appear to be wrapped in foliage, and Manchu platform shoes with flower pot style pedestals decorated with cherry blossoms from the second half of the 19th century. Not to mention, hand-painted Air Jordan 1s embellished with peonies by artist Vicky Vuong, an Andrea Pfister mule from the 1980s featuring poppies, and eighteenth-century shoes made of brocaded silk featuring roses.

And if that’s not enough, the museum is also unveiling a new front window installation created by rye florals co. This installation aims to inspire feelings of beauty and abundance, reflecting the themes of nature, transformation, and growth.

The Bata Shoe Museum is open Monday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. If you happen to be visiting on a Sunday, you’ll enjoy free general admission. Indigenous visitors are always welcome for free.

So what are you waiting for? Put on your favorite walking shoes and head over to the Bata Shoe Museum to experience the beauty and history of footwear and florals. As they say, “For every shoe there’s a story.”

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