The Bata Shoe Museum’s new Exhibition : Fashion Victims

The Bata Shoe Museum announced the new exhibition Fashion Victims: The Pleasures and Perils of Dressin the 19th Century in June that explores the dangerous side of fashion. The exhibit features a selection of early 19th century outfits fashioned by seamstresses and shoemakers in a chic ‘Old’ Parisian styled shop. It will take you on a journey through time to visit the challenges faced by those who produced fashion to the risks taken by those who wore it.

Visit the exhibit to see how fashion has truly transformed over the years and the extreme risks we used to take to look great. It will seriously put the saying “Fashion is Pain”, as a lot of people back then would suffer from the effects of the dyes, iron and so many other products they adored but didn’t realize the impact it had on their health. You will learn about the dangers of dresses and shoes that are dyed arsenic green, the true killer behind mad hatters and how mercury poisoning was a common problem. You will also get to see the effects of constricting fashions such as corsets and impossibly tiny and narrow footwear.


Some of the highlights from the exhibition include a variety of dresses, hued footwear, beautiful hand‐embroidered boots manufactured by the exclusive Parisian shoemaking firm of Francois Pinet, impossibly narrow Adelaide boots and gloves worn by Empress Elisabeth of Austria and a corset with a sixteen‐inch waist from the Cleaver/Suddon collection. We especially found it interesting how incredibly tiny the Empress Elisabeth of Austria shoes and garments were, very similar to what we would imagine would be for a child. Be inspired to know how fashion has evolved through the centuries to become the safer industry than it once was.


The exhibition, which ultimately explores a wide variety of pleasures and perils associated with fashion from head to toe, was curated by Elizabeth Semmelhack, Senior Curator, Bata Shoe Museum and Dr. Alison Matthews David, Associate Professor, School of Fashion, Ryerson University and building on Dr. Matthews David’s research into the dangers of dress in the 19th century. The exhibit will be at the Bata Shoe Museum until June 2016, and it is not something you want to miss out on seeing! Have the chance to browse over ninety artifacts from the Bata Shoe Museum’s extensive holdings augmented by loans from private collections.

Check out some of the photos from our adventure to see the new exhibition when it opened up:

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