Considering shoes truly make or break an outfit, we decided to give our Fashion Week coverage a bit of an international twist by reaching out to our northern neighbors at the Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto, Canada, to get a sampling of some amazing footwear that have been donned by some of the most famous people in the world.
Check out some of our favorite picks:
Socks image courtesy of 2013 © Bata Shoe Museum, Toronto, Canada. / Napoleon image via Getty.
In the early 1800s, Napoleon was determined to make France a fashion powerhouse and get its economy going. He stopped the importation of British textiles, encouraged lacemaking, and forbade women to wear the same dress to court. Leading by example was his fashionable wife, the Empress Josephine, who built a reputation on her exquisite style.
As for what Napoleon did for men? Some believe he brought back the Caesar-style haircut, and aside from offering distinguished men the stately act of placing your hand underneath your jacket in photos, he also gave them free reign to wear white pants.
The Bata Shoe Museum is the proud keeper of his socks, which he wore during his exile at St. Helena.
Shoe image courtesy of 2013 © Bata Shoe Museum, Toronto, Canada. / Marilyn Monroe image via Getty.
Marilyn Monroe and fashion: How do we count the ways? Among the many ways we celebrate her style, Monroe brought curves, the facial beauty mark, platinum blonde hair, and even the flirty way she wiggled in stilettos something to be imitated.
“I don’t know who invented the high heel, but all women owe him a lot,” she was quoted to have said.
Designed by shoe architect Beth Levine, these red stilettos were worn by Monroe in the 1950s.
Shoe image courtesy of 2013 © Bata Shoe Museum, Toronto, Canada. / Gloria Swanson image via Getty.
You don’t get as vintage chic as Gloria Swanson. The prolific silent screen actress, who was able to transition into speaking roles and is most remembered for her role as Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard, was the “IT Girl” of the early 20th century. Under the direction of Cecil B. DeMille, Swanson was a cinematic and sartorial powerhouse. Women everywhere wanted to mimic her hairstyles, as well as her haute couture wardrobe, which was usually ensconced in feathers and heavily laden with jewelry. During her heyday, she was one of the most photographed women in the world.
In the 1960s shoe designer Beth Levine created the exotic shoes above for Swanson in her later years.
Shoe image courtesy of 2013 © Bata Shoe Museum, Toronto, Canada. / John Lennon image via Getty.
Before John Lennon evolved into his rebel style—bedhead grown-out hair, silk scarves, fisherman’s caps, circular wire-rimmed eyeglasses—he, along with Ringo Starr, Paul McCartney, and George Harrison popularized the Mod look as the Beatles. The young Brits made tight suits, the “mop-top” ‘do, and what eventually became known as the “Beatle boots” all the rage.
According to the Bata Shoe Museum’s curators, you can still read Lennon’s name written inside his boot above.
Shoe image courtesy of 2013 © Bata Shoe Museum, Toronto, Canada. / Madonna image via Getty.
Few stars can get away with reinventing their personal style and art and still appear authentic, but Madonna’s been a Lucky Star for decades. From ripped up denim, belly-button revealing tops, huge gold crucifix necklaces, cone bras, to even shaving off her eyebrows and dyeing her hair brown and black, Madonna has been an influential chameleon and harbinger of all things fashion.
As a fan of the Italian luxury designer Dolce & Gabbana, Madonna brought the company international fame in the early 90s when she wore its bejeweled corset and complementary jacket to the premiere of her documentary, Truth or Dare, at the Cannes Film Festival.
The image above is of a bold D&G platform the artist wore in the mid-90s.