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Walk This Way: Footwear from the Stuart Weitzman Collection of Historic Shoes
July 9 - October 8
Shoes in recent years have culturally transcended their utilitarian purpose to become an object of desire and deliberation, calling up abstract considerations—like the freighted meanings of femininity, power, domination, and aspiration—for both women and men alike. Walk This Way: Footwear from the Stuart Weitzman Collection of Historic Shoes highlights examples from the shoe designer’s extensive private collection, assembled over three decades. The exhibition considers the story of the shoe from the perspectives of collection, consumption, presentation, and production with more than 100 of shoes on view. The exhibition will explore larger trends in American economic history, from industrialization to the rise of consumer culture, with a focus on women’s contributions as makers, designers, and entrepreneurs. Coordinated by Valerie Paley, vice president, chief historian, and director of the Center for Women’s History, with Edward Maeder, consulting curator, and Jeanne Gardner Gutierrez, curatorial coordinator.
“Walk This Way will surprise and delight visitors with its unexpected lens on women’s history through Stuart Weitzman’s unparalleled historic footwear collection,” says Dr. Louise Mirrer, president and CEO of the New-York Historical Society.
Walk This Way will provide viewers with perspectives on collection, consumption, presentation, and production. From personal mementos such as satin bridal slippers to beaded strapped evening shoes worn at ballroom dances, shoes of all stripes will be on display — even pairs dating back to 1800s, like a pair of pink silk embroidered boudoir shoes from 1847.
“Shoes on view range from designs to be worn in the privacy of a woman’s home, shoes that American suffragists wore as they marched through city streets, ‘sexy’ heels that reflected changing norms of female aesthetics, and professional shoes suitable for the increasing numbers of women in the workforce. We are thrilled to be able to offer the public this unique opportunity to explore the private collection of a collector extraordinaire who is also America’s top shoe designer,” Mirrer added.
Walk This Way also provides a walkthrough of the shoemaking process and how women in the shoemaking workforce — in addition to the rise in department store popularity at the turn of the 20th century — made history in 1904 when the Boot & Shoe Workers Union constitution called for “uniform wages for the same class of work, regardless of sex.”
The exhibition is slated to strut its stuff through October. Learn more by visiting the New-York Historical Society.