Saturday, June 20, 2009

Spike the Shoe!

Wearing a cobbler’s apron crafted by Hermes, Beth Levine made magic in her studio. Beyond shoes, the Levines (Beth, and her husband, Herbert) transformed American made footwear of the prosaic loafer era into a glamourous panoply of humorous, chic, and innovative pieces that remain iconoclastic even today.

Think of Marilyn Monroe in her Springolators….the name Beth Levine is stamped indelibly onto that image.

A virtuoso of shoe-dom, Beth Levine as the design force behind the Herbert Levine brand, influenced European style with her elegant creations. This glorious technicolor book tracks the Levines from their first post War shoe factory to their last run in 1975. Ad campaigns, publicity shots, pages from Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar fashion editorials lend imaginative background to the myth and the reality of the Levine shoe.

Best of all are the artistically photographed portraits of Beth’s shoes- details captured, nuance explained. Able to make inroads in experimental and futuristic shapes and materials, the Levines’ body of work affords a broad spectrum of design research. Theatre boots, encrusted with stones a la 18th Century; modernistic Kabuki “flats” that give a floating sensation; clear vinyl; heels crafted from curls of leather; pumps covered in peacock feathers: this book is a veritable library of shoe history. Written with appropriate quotes and quips, with a dynamic forward by Harold Koda, of the Metropolitan Museum, this is one of the most important costume books in the field since “Mode in Shoes” first appeared.

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