Ten things Sonja Bata can’t live without

The Bata Shoe Museum celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. Here, 10 things its founding shoe fetishist can’t live without

Sonja Bata
(Images: Nathan Cyprys)
My swag bags They give out free nylon briefcases at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, which I’ve been attending for years. I own six or seven of them at this point and carry them everywhere. They’re extremely practical.

My prize exhibit It’s thanks to Ken Thomson that this shoe-shaped watch ended up at the museum. Years ago, he phoned from Paris to say he was going to an auction and there was something in the catalogue I had to buy. Then he called back two hours later to make sure I’d placed the bid. That was typical Ken.
My high heels I suppose I do live without them now—after a couple of broken hips, I don’t have much choice. But I’ll always love a great pair of heels. They boost your confidence.
My Afghan prayer beads While I was touring Afghanistan with the Canadian Armed Forces in 2009, my translator, an Afghan chap, told me his whole life story. At the end of the trip, he handed me his glass prayer beads as a symbol of our friendship.
My good luck charm My husband gave me this little silver bull many decades ago. We were married for 63 years. There were joyous times and difficult times, but we always persevered. That’s what the bull symbolizes: never give up. I keep it on my nightstand.
My Chanel jacket I wore it for the launch of the museum in 1995 and again for the 10th anniversary. It looks great with black pants.
My Henry Moore sculpture I saw it at the Mira Godard gallery back in the ’60s and wanted it desperately, but it was far too expensive. Later, while my husband and I were travelling in Asia, he presented me with a photograph of the sculpture—sitting on our mantelpiece! It was a wonderful surprise.
My Italian sketchbook I became friends with the artist Pietro Annigoni when he painted my portrait in 1962. He was a bit of a womanizer and drunkard, but we had wonderful discussions about art. He gave me his sketchbook and I had it professionally bound.
My Burberry raincoat It’s ancient, absolutely ancient, but perfect for travelling: lightweight, big pockets and easy to pack.
My favourite necklace It’s a simple gold chain, and I’ve had it for over 50 years. My mother left me some fantastic jewellery, but it rarely leaves the safety deposit box—anything too elaborate makes me feel like a Christmas tree.


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