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WANT: Desire, Design and Depression Era Footwear

Start Date 20 January 2019
End Date 30 March 2020
Venue Bata Shoe Museum
Location Toronto, Canada
Curator Elizabeth Semmelhack

On October 24, 1929, the United States stock market crashed ushering in a decade of darkness and turmoil.  As global economies tumbled, want proliferated—want of employment, want of security, want of escape.  The desires born from want drove an explosion of cultural creativity from film to fashion.   Some sought to satiate the needs of the public, others sought to distract them from the troubling times, yet others hoped that by stoking desire and encouraging consumption the economy could be redeemed. 

Some of the most innovative shoe designs in the history of Western fashion were created during this decade of want.  Shoe designers Salvatore Ferragamo, Andre Pérugia, Steven Arpad and Roger Vivier played with the architecture of footwear creating uplifting platforms and wedges as well as futuristic novelty heels and revealing peep toes that reflected escapist Hollywood glamour as well as new conceptions of fashionable femininity.