Exhibitions | Exploring Bally

Bernard Villemot, 
– La mappemonde, 1988

Bally – Swiss Shoes Since 1851
Museum für Gestaltung Zürich
Zürich | Switzerland
14 March > 11 August 2019

Thomas Cugini,
fashion photography
SS 1970, 1970

In 1953, Sir Edmund Hillary and Tensing Norgay conquered Everest in Bally boots. Synonymous with functionality, modernity and refined design, Bally’s finely-crafted, high-traction hiking boot is now commonly seen walking city streets.

The international luxury goods brand was founded as a shoe manufacturer in a small Swiss village in 1851. Now based in Milan, but still with shoes at its core, Bally creates two new collections per year that include women’s and men’s bags and accessories, as well as women’s ready-to-wear fashion. Championing exploration, discovery, and sport, its expanding range includes military and sports shoes.

Bally ski boot, 1930s

Pioneering from the beginning: despite resistance from the local shoemakers’ guild, Carl Franz Bally organised his company’s shoe production along industrial lines. He was a progressive employer, who, with remarkable foresight realised that his factory workers would be happier (and healthier) with comfortable conditions and access to decent food. The canteen Bally established for them in 1879, was replaced in 1915 by The Kosthaus. Set in parkland, it was an early commission for Karl Moser, who would later be hailed as one of the fathers of Swiss modernism. It included a large dining room, rooms that could be rented and showers for use by Bally employees, who nicknamed it the Parkhotel.

The Subtle Art of
Shoe Caring,
Bally booklet, 2014

Bernard Villemot,
Bally, 1979

Bally opened its first shop in Geneva in the early 1870s. One in Buenos Aires soon followed, as well as others in Paris and London. More recently, in the 1980s, Bally was one of the first to establish an outlet in post-reform China. Its forward-thinking and modern aesthetic – reflected strongly in its graphics, as well as in its shop interiors – has continued to play a key role in its development and in the way the company presents itself. Its London flagship store was designed by David Chipperfield Architects in 2014.

Bally, Scribe
AW 2018
Photo Maurizio
Bavutti, 2018

In addition to many examples of advertising and print material, Bally – Swiss Shoes Since 1851 at Museum für Gestaltung Zürich presents a cross-section of the whole range of Bally shoes from different eras. It will start out by featuring pieces from the spring/summer 2019 collections and later update the display with others from the new autumn/winter collection.

All images courtesy Museum für Gestaltung Zürich © Bally Schuhfabriken AG

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