“Standing Tall” Show Puts High Heels in a New Light

In What's New, Industry News by Lauren Parker

English, c. 1690-1710 Canadian, designed and made by Master John, 1973

English, c. 1690-1710
Canadian, designed and made by Master John, 1973

Toronto–Coming off the heels (sorry) of the Killer Heels exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum, The Bata Shoe Museum will soon premiere Standing Tall: The Curious History of Men in Heels, on May 8, 2015, challenging preconceived notions about who wears heels and why.

From Napoleon to Prince (both the musician and royals) men of privilege and rock stars have long wore high shoes and boots, and the show explore men in heels from the early 1600s to present.

“When heels were introduced into fashion at the turn of the 17th century, men were the first to adopt them and they continued wearing heels as expressions of power and prestige for over 130 years,” said Elizabeth Semmelhack, Senior Curator, Bata Shoe Museum.  “Even after they fell from men’s fashion in the 1730s, there were pockets of time when heels were reintegrated into the male wardrobe not as a way of challenging masculinity but rather as a means of proclaiming it”.

Elton John's Ferradini Platforms, Italian, 1972-1975

Elton John’s Ferradini Platforms, Italian, 1972-1975

While heels on cowboy boots are perfectly accepted for men, glam rock boots are a whole different issue. But with the advantages of height currently connected to higher pay and increased desirability, the real question is why don’t men wear heels?

The show offers rare examples of men’s heels from the 17th and 18th centures, mid-nineteenth century military boots, 1930s cowboy boots and 1940s biker boots. As for those rock stars, visitors can view John Lennon’s original 1960s Beatle boot, 1970s platforms worn by Elton John and recent heels from haute couture collections, all from the Museum’s own holdings.

Standing Tall: The Curious History of Men in Heels will be on display until June 2016.

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