Apr 14, 2014
02:44 PMStyle & Design
Stuart Weitzman Fantasy Shoes for Sale in Greenwich 'Art & Sole' Event
For lovers of couture footwear, the story is now legendary: When shoe designer Stuart Weitzman opened his first boutique on Madison Avenue in Manhattan in the mid-1990’s, his wife, Jane, “made sure it was fun to shop there.”
How she did that left an indelibly artistic imprint on the business.
Known for leading the company’s philanthropic efforts, Jane Gershon Weitzman was also the visionary curator behind window displays that featured specially-commissioned fantasy shoes made by artists from all over the world.
In 2013, the best shoes from that collection, made from materials that ranged from watercolor paper to playing cards, and from fresh flowers to frosting, went on display in book form in Weitzman’s Art & Sole, published by Harper Design, an imprint of HarperCollins.
(Above, Automata VI by Douglas Wilson.)
The book’s “spectacular selection” of more than 150 fantasy art shoes from the Stuart Weitzman Collection soon will be in the spotlight at the Stuart Weitzman location in Greenwich, which is participating in Art to the Avenue, a marriage of art and commerce sponsored by The Greenwich Arts Council that turns Greenwich Avenue into a strolling gallery.
In celebration of opening night (May 1, from 5:30 to 8 p.m.), some of the fantasy art shoes from the collection will be displayed—and available for purchase—at the boutique.
Jane Weitzman (left) will be on hand to sign copies of her book throughout the evening. (Art & Sole features two artists with Connecticut ties; Nina Bentley, who lives in Westport, and the late Irene Reid of Hartford, who passed before the book was published.)
“The evening launches a truly spectacular show,” the arts council says of Art to the Avenue. “Musicians and street performers fill the street entertaining strollers. Most stores host receptions for the hundreds of visitors who attend to preview the work of over 120 artists. The art selected by the retailers remains in place through Memorial Day, so there is ample time for viewers to experience the ‘gallery’ that downtown Greenwich becomes.”
We caught up with Jane Weitzman recently to talk about the Greenwich event and the legacy of the fantasy shoes.
The art shoes that will be featured for sale in Greenwich—where the Weitzmans live—will be not be the exact ones featured in Art & Sole but similar.
“I don’t want to sell the ones in the book,” Weitzman says. Those are too precious, and too much part of the legacy, to part with: “They’re like my children.”
“We had over a thousand shoes because we did these windows for about eight years,” Weitzman explains. Each window display highlighted an individual artist who produced approximately eight fantasy shoes. (“It was as though each artist had his or her own show.”)
“When Stuart Weitzman opened its first boutique on Madison Avenue, its displays of specially commissioned fantasy shoes quickly became a destination, drawing crowds form all over the world to its magical windows,” HarperCollins says of the impact of Weitzman’s vision.
“Over time [the shoes] improved but there were some wonderful ones from the very beginning,” says Weitzman. “ … I wanted to push it as far as I could. We kept pushing the artists to take the shoes to the next level.” (Left, Fence Me In by Anthony Rossiello.)
The promotion stopped when the Weitzmans sold part of the company, at a time when the number of stores was expanding. “When we stopped doing it, I think there were 11 stores,” Weitzman says. “It was not easy to ship these [art shoes] around the country.”
Now there are about 40 stores in U.S., and about 100 around the world.
Art & Sole was published in August of last year, and Weitzman says that she’s been on the road doing events centered on the book since last October. “I’ve gone all over the country and I have more [appearances] coming up in the summer and this fall,” she says.
In promoting the book, Weitzman endeavors to simultaneously help charities and worthy causes. Thirty percent of the proceeds from sale of the fantasy shoes will go to Greenwich Arts Council. (Above, Jewels at Work by Sharon Von Senden.)
“It’s a wonderful event. Greenwich Avenue is going to be a wonderful place that night,” Weitzman says in reference to opening night of Art to the Avenue.
For more on the initiative, see the website at greenwichartscouncil.org/Art-to-the-Avenue.html.
The Stuart Weitzman boutique is located at 120 Greenwich Avenue and may be reached at 203-622-5036 for more information. The website is stuartweitzman.com.Stuart Weitzman Fantasy Shoes for Sale in Greenwich 'Art & Sole' Event