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If the shoe fits: research from fashion professionals links shoes to crime – News & Events

If the shoe fits: research from fashion professionals links shoes to crime – News & Events
If the shoe fits: research from fashion professionals links shoes to crime – News & Events


Every shoe tells a story. And as the work of Alison Matthews David, a professor at Toronto Metropolitan University, shows, some shoes reveal much more than that: evidence of a crime.

Matthews Davids' research, Exhibit A: Investigating Crime and Footwear, currently on display at the Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto, examines the development of shoe forensics as a means of solving crime, as well as 19th century social constructions of crime nowadays.

Curated by Matthews David alongside museum director and senior curator Elizabeth Semmelhack, the exhibition features more than 27 objects from TMU's Fashion Research collection and galleries from Quebec, Paris, Switzerland, the Police Museum in Toronto, the New Scotland Yard Crime Museum in London, United Kingdom and the Canadian Penitentiary Museum in Kingston, Ontario.

The exhibition examines how shoes and clothing play a role in cultural ideas of crime based on assumptions and prejudices, and highlights the role of shoes in crime, policing and the justice system.

Sherlock Holmes, dads work with the homicide squad

The inspiration to study the connection between crime and shoes came to Matthews David in a variety of ways.

Growing up, she had an affinity for Sherlock Holmes and murder mysteries.

His father's work also fueled his intrigue. He worked as a computer programmer for the Toronto police homicide squad, and as Matthews David followed the cases he worked on, his fascination with crime grew.

Years later, as Matthews David pursued a career in fashion history, she learned how detectives used forensic techniques to find arsenic in green-colored dresses.

She planted the seed that there was a connection between fashion and poisoning detection.

Plus, I think I was just captivated by that image of the detective in a trench coat and fedora – who always had a magnifying glass in his hand and always seemed to be following the steps, she declared.




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