The James A. Michener Art Museum is presenting Walk This Way: Footwear from the Stuart Weitzman Collection of Historic Shoes, on view Sept. 24-Jan. 15.
Focused on the women who designed, manufactured, sold and collected footwear, the exhibition explores how shoes have transcended their utilitarian purpose to become representations of culture — coveted as objects of desire, designed with artistic consideration, and expressing complicated meanings of femininity, power and aspiration.
This exhibition has been organized by the New York Historical Society. Walk This Way presents over 100 pairs of shoes from the extensive private collection by iconic designer Stuart Weitzman, and businesswoman and philanthropist Jane Gershon Weitzman.
“Walk This Way provides a unique look at this history of fashion, labor and gender through a wide range of footwear,” said Laura Turner Igoe, Michener’s chief curator. “It’s very exciting to share this impressive collection of shoes with visitors.”
The exhibition covers a century of economic change, from the spread of industrialization to the development of consumer culture to the impact of globalization, with a focus on women’s contributions as producers, consumers, designers and entrepreneurs. Shoes are presented as pathways toward discovering the vital role of women and diverse historical narratives around women’s labor activism, the fight for suffrage and the sexual revolution.
Walk This Way explores a variety of shoes, including those worn by suffragists as they marched through the streets, Jazz Age flappers as they danced the Charleston and starlets who graced the silver screen in the postwar era. The exhibition features the footwear designs of Christian Dior, Yves Saint Laurent, Salvatore Ferragamo and Beth Levine — the “First Lady of Shoe Design” — as well as shoes by Weitzman himself.
In addition, the Michener will display a selection of innovative shoes by contemporary Delaware Valley designers that express empowerment, an important theme that runs throughout the Walk This Way exhibition.
Visit michenerartmuseum.org/ for more information.