Explore Beth Levine’s haute couture shoes at the Long Island Museum
Ms. Levine’s connection to nature appears in several of her designs. One, called âButterfly Bootâ, which she created in 1971, is covered with butterflies embroidered with silk on linen. Even more whimsical is his 1966 ‘Barefoot in the Grass’ sandal, which uses AstroTurf as an insole. Ms. Levine once explained that âweed goes with youâ when you wear it.
Other unusual designs stray from the roots of Ms. Levine’s farm. His “Moon Shoe”, made in 1968, uses reflective silver vinyl to give it a space exploration look. “Paper Twist” (1967) consisted of laminated paper strips.
The farmer’s daughter came into shoe fashions in a roundabout way, Ms Verin said. She moved to New York in 1938, intending to study social work. To earn money to pay for her education, she got a job as a foot model, ideal for her as she wore a 4B shoe, the standard sample size at the time. Soon after, she started making suggestions about fit and comfort, although they were often unwanted in the male-dominated industry.
In 1946, while looking for a better job, she met Herbert Levine, a Dartmouth graduate who worked in sales and advertising at a shoe company. They married a few months later, and in 1948 bought a factory and opened Herbert Levine Inc. Attaching a male name to the brand made it more commercially acceptable at the time, Ms. Verin said.
Ms. Levine never had any formal training in design (although through her farming background she was familiar with different types of leather). I learned by doing. She has tried all her shoe styles herself, often making adjustments to increase their comfort. âComfort IS fashionable! exclaims another wall text quote.
A clear vinyl pump on display as part of the exhibit makes the feet appear to be sweating inside. How could it be comfortable? Ms. Verin pointed out almost invisible holes that allow air to circulate. And these very pointy shoes – they look painful. This is not the case, said Ms Verin, who owns many of the shoes in the show and has tried a few: they only get really tight after clearing the toes, so the feet are not tablets.
In other words, despite their sophisticated pedigree, these shoes were made to walk.