Walk this Way

Walk This Way…

… was an exhibition of footwear from the vast Stuart Weitzman Collection of Historic Shoes, on show at the New-York Historical Society between April-October 2018. Over a 100 pairs of these (mostly) wearable artworks were on display and I was in shoe heaven, barely able to restrain myself from trying them on – and walking away.

Scroll down and tell me you wouldn’t…

Sharon Von Senden, Jewels at Work – Swarovski crystals, stained glass, vintage stones
Robert Steele, Corrugated Curves, Cardboard
Unidentified maker, open-toe mules, ca. 1950s – Leather, plexiglas, rhinestone, elastic Spring-o-lator. These shoes  belonged to Ginger Rogers
Unidentified maker, Mary Jane shoes, ca. 1926 – Silk and metallic patterned fabric, embossed metal buttons

”Mary Jane” was originally a character in a popular newspaper strip, Buster Brown. In 1904, the Brown Shoe Company licenced her image to market children’s shoes. Eventually, any shoe with a chunky low heel and a strap across the instep became know as a ”Mary Jane”.

Terry de Havilland, Peep-toe platform shoes, ca. 1972 – Suede, leather
David Evins, Column-heel pumps, ca. 1970 – Plastic
Unidentified maker, Pumps, late 1920s – Silk, leather
Unidentified maker, Laced pumps, 1910 – Silk brocade, laces
Peal & Co., Buttoned boots, ca. 1920 (left) & Lace-up boots by an unidentified maker, ca. 1910-20 (right)
Unidentified maker from China, Ankle-strap sandals, ca. 1930s – Silk, kid leather, embroidery
Delman Shoes, Peep-toe evening shoes, ca. 1935 – Leather and mesh net
Fenton Footwear, T-strap pumps, ca. 1937 – Velveteen, leather
Unidentified maker, Buttoned boots, 1870s
Unidentified maker, Lace-up boots, ca. 1900 – Silk and silk brocade
Fenton Last, Open-toe slingback sandals, late 1970s – Leather, silk
Knight Shoe Ltd., Lace-up boots, 1910-15 – Leather, canvas, laces
C. P. Ford & Co., High-top shoes, 1905-10 from Rochester, New York – Leather, buttons
Krohn-Fechheimer & Co., Red Cross Noiseless shoes, ca. 1918, Leather
Enzo of Roma, Thong sandals, 1960s – Leather, synthetic
The Chelsea Cobbler, Peep-toe platform shoes, ca. 1972 – Suede
Frank Brothers, T-strap shoes, ca. 1930 – Silk satin, kid leather, mother-of-pearl button
Unidentified maker, T-strap evening sandals, ca. 1940s – Leather, silk, rhinestones
Herbert Levine Inc., Kabuki platform shoes, 1964 – Suede, wood
Robert Tabor, Cabfab – Acrylic, vinyl, rhinestones
The Red Carpet
Unidentified maker, Stilted bath clogs (qabâqib), 19th century. Ottoman, possibly Syrian – Wood, inlaid mother-of-pearl

Women throughout the Islamic Middle East wore stilted wooden bath clogs such as these for over four centuries. An adaptation of ancient Roman shoes called sculponea, qabâqib were similarly associated with bathing and bath houses. Nineteenth-century European orientalists considered these highly desirable collectibles, symbolizing an imagined ”Eastern” exoticism and eroticism.

Freed of London, Toe shoes, 1994-95 – Silk, canvas, leather

The ballerina Heather Watts wore this pair of pointe shoes on January 15, 1995 for her farewell performance as a principal dancer with the New York City Ballet, which she joined in 1970. Watts afterwards told the New York Times, ”I need to live in new shoes.”

Gregg Barnes, designer. T.O. Dey, maker. ”Kinky boots” ca. 2013, from New York City. Paten metallic leathers, rubber, fabric, metal

”The sex is in the heel / Fierce as you can make it / The sex is the appeal”, sings Lola, the drag queen at the heart of the musical Kinky Boots. The hit Broadway show is based on the true story of a struggling shoe factory that survived by producing high-heeled fetish footwear in men’s sizes.

New-York Historical Society, New York City

June 23rd, 2018

4 thoughts on “Walk this Way


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