Long before Christian Louboutin, Manolo Blahnik, Jimmy Choo, Brian Atwood, Patrick Cox, Prada and Miu Miu (let alone Chanel, Dior, etc.) there was Salvatore Ferragamo, Roger Vivier, Andrea Pfister, Maud Frizon, and the list goes on…and, of course, Herbert and Beth Levine. Beth Levine and Beth’s Bootery are the subjects of today’s post. I have always loved shoes and have worn heels since I was 13 years old, of course, heels then were 3-4 inches, not the stilettos of today (which, by the way, I wore for many, many years!) This post came about when I read about the Michael Kors buy of Jimmy Choo for 1.2 billion dollars!
I had the opportunity, at Saks Fifth Avenue, Chicago, to work with Fiamma Ferragamo, Roger Vivier and Andrea Pfister (who did a last of my foot to fashion special shoes just for me…do I have any of them, the answer, unfortunately, is no!!!) All were delightful to work with and extremely talented. Each with their unique style creating works of art and at different times in my SFA tenure. Vivier was the first shoe creator that I worked with, he was the hot designer of the time and did an exclusive line for SFA (actually, all those I worked with did exclusives for us, and they were extraordinary). He could not have been more charming, a true French gentleman with the utmost creativity. I worked with Fiamma and Andrea often and sometimes did fun fashion events with them. A few times I did vignettes using picture frames and had the model’s feet and legs outside the frames (that is all you saw) showing the most exciting of the shoe collections. The designers, as well as the clients really had fun with those events.
Now on to the Levines….I wore Herbert Levine shoes when I was in high school. We had the most wonderful shoe stores in Chicago (the Chicago store was next door to Saks on Michigan Avenue) and in Evanston called Joseph’s and they carried all the “of the moment styles”, one new “invention” was the “Springolator”. The Springolator shoe features an elastic insole that is designed to create tension between the shoe and the bottom of the foot to stay on the foot, without slipping off or go clack-clack when you walk. It was “invented” by Herbert Levine and his designer wife, Beth. It is in actuality a mule or slide but stayed on your foot because of the tension.
Beth Levine as I remember her, joyful and beyond talented!
I had several pairs especially for all my dance dresses…we wore a lot of party dresses in the 1950’s and I made most of them myself…I never wanted anything anyone else had. My prom dress (I was already working at Saks when I graduated high school) was made of unbleached muslin, strapless, of course, and I fashioned rosettes of the muslin to applique on the skirt (with petticoats underneath as was the fashion at the time!) and tied an apricot velvet ribbon at the waist, on my feet, Herbert Levine Springolator shoes in ecru with bows in the same apricot velvet! Actually, they looked a lot like the pump on the cover of the book at the beginning of the post but they were open toe…you get the idea. Quite chic if I say so myself….
Two examples of Herbert Levine Springolators.
I had this exact shoe except in pink (me in pink!!??, interesting) the ornament was Dresden china. I loved those shoes.
I mentioned in yesterday’s post, Beth’s collection of wooden shoe snuff boxes and the shoe she designed in their honor. Here are a couple of other “themed” shoes that I found amusing…
The racing car flat.
Very Mod and certainly the late 1960’s.
Beth’s boot revival “were made for walking” as Nancy Sinatra’s 1966 song tells us https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SbyAZQ45uww They started a craze that has survived to current fashion and just get higher and higher up the leg and in heel height.
Adore this shoe and it came on many color combinations.
I am mad for this shoe the lace embellishment, the shape of the heel, a true masterpiece (could also be a Vivier!)
I think this is a particularly beautiful heel….just like the back of our ready-to-wear garments are seen by all so are the back of our shoes. Wouldn’t you love to see these with a LBD for a fabulous cocktail party….please!!!!!
Portrait by Philip Pearlstein, 1980’s which was on loan for the Beth Levine: The First Lady of Shoes exhibition at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery in 2015. Go to their blog at npg.si.edu
All images from Pinterest photo credits unknown.