Men in High Heels

“Never before have a few inches mattered so much,” reads the cheeky synopsis of an upcoming exhibit at the Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto. The provocative exhibit, Standing Tall, will explore the history of men in heels from the early 1600s to today, from kings to rock stars, promising to challenge preconceived notions about who wore high heels and why.

“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 at the museum. “Even after they fell from men’s fashion in the 1730s, there were pockets of time when heels were [worn] not as a way of challenging masculinity but rather as a means of proclaiming it.”

On view will be rare examples of men’s heeled shoes from the 17th and 18th centuries, as well as 19th-century military boots, 1930s cowboy boots, and 1940s biker boots. John Lennon’s ‘Beatle boot’ from the 1960s and Elton John’s platform shoes from the 1970s will also be on display, as well as couture examples.

Standing Tall: The Curious History of Men in Heels, May 8, 2015 – June 2016, Bata Shoe Museum, Toronto

Uzbeki Riding Shoe, Afghanistan (1850)

Slap-sole shoes, English (ca 1650-1670)

Persian, 17th century

Platform boots by Master John, Canada (1973)

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