Fashion & DesignCelebrate nature’s influence on fashion with Bata Shoe Museum’s In Bloom Exhibit

Celebrate nature’s influence on fashion with Bata Shoe Museum’s In Bloom Exhibit

Bata Shoe Museum is presenting another brilliantly-curated exhibit running from April 20, 2023 to October 6, 2024. In Bloom: Flowers and Footwear explores nature’s role in providing  inspiration for designer storytelling across the ages.  From the Renaissance period, when designers took inspiration from herbs and plants to the cultivation of ornamental gardens and floral illustrations, this exhibition explores the design practices, both old and new, that have blossomed and have made an impact on fashion trends.


The most natural source of beauty the world has to offer, nature has long been a muse for designers. 


The original home to all colours, shapes, textures and patterns, there’s a lot of inspiration to play with. From flowers and foliage to animal prints, some of nature’s gifts have served as the biggest trends in the fashion industry, such as cheetah prints that dominated in the 80s to florals that emerge in clothes and shoes every spring (insert The Devil Wears Prada quote).


“Spring is the perfect time to consider and enjoy all of the beautiful florals that have long embellished footwear and fashion around the world,” says Elizabeth Semmelhack, Director and Senior Curator, Bata Shoe Museum. “Flowers can be uplifting and calming, providing a sense of wonder and renewal; sentiments that we are all searching for right now.”


Keep scrolling to see Glossi Mag’s highlights of the upcoming exhibit.



These playful mules by Italian designer Andrea Pfister feature poppies across the vamp. Created in 1988, Pfister was ahead of her time – these symbolic red flowers are a popular motif in fashion today. 



Heavily beaded mules are a longstanding tradition in Southeast Asian Peranakan weddings. This pair in particular, estimated to be from around the 1920s, feature lush pink peonies and detailed butterflies. 



A little different from the rest, In Bloom is showcasing these infant Korean socks known as ‘Taraebeoseon.’ Besides their main function to protect the feet, they served as a lucky charm. Housewives had sketches of their family members’ feet and made Beoseon for each of them. Afterward, the sketches were collected in a pouch decorated with peonies and other flowers believed to bring wealth and a long life. Dated around 1900, and delicately crafted from cotton, they feature floral embroidery and pink tassels. 



Chinese tradition has long believed that the blooming of cherry blossoms in spring represents new beginnings, with the branches signifying longevity. Cherry blossoms are intricately entwined in these Manchu platform shoes, with the pedestals representing a flower pot. 



Fashion brought a sense of normalcy to life for women during World War II; however, the use of traditional shoemaking materials such as leather were restricted. Shoemakers had to get creative. These are suspected to be either North American or French shoes from the 1930s – 1940s, hand-crafted from cork and grass. 



These Colonial American or English shoes with a slight heel were designed sometime between 1760 and 1770. Made of a silk brocade fabric, they feature pink and red roses, which were hugely popular in women’s fashion at the time. 



Traveling through time to present day, these custom Air Jordans by Canadian sneaker artist Vicky Vuong feature hand-painted peonies, reminiscent of her Asian heritage. They’re inspired by the florals often found on Chinese porcelain. 


Tickets for In Bloom are available for purchase through Bata Shoe Museum’s website. 


Like what you see here? Read our recent article on INLAND’s spring pop-up.


Nicole Hammond is a Glossi Mag contributor.


Nicole is a public relations specialist based in Toronto. She loves all things fashion and beauty. When she’s not working at Matte PR, you can find her with her friends on a night out in the city or binging Love Island.


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