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Jane Gershon Weitzman’s Art & Sole Celebrates Fantasy Art Footwear

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We’ve all heard (or made) the argument that beautiful shoes are works of art — for some, those masterpieces are meant to be carefully stored, gorgeously displayed, and taken out only on the most special of occasions (like custom-made red carpet gowns); whereas, for others, these creative works are all the more special because they’re wearable, because they can travel the world on the feet of any woman who dons them, thereby enjoying the type of exposure no static painting on a canvas ever could. Jane Gershon Weitzman, the wife of esteemed footwear designer Stuart Weitzman, certainly knows about stunning footwear — not just the high-end shoes envisioned by her husband but also the fantasy art shoes that, like sculptures, were once displayed in the windows of Stuart Weitzman’s flagship boutique on Madison Avenue and 59th Street in New York City.

They say behind every great man, there’s a great woman, but in Jane’s case, it would be dishonest to posit her as ever being “behind” anyone, as lurking in the shadows — in truth, she was the strong woman besides, not behind, her man.  From the company’s inception, she played an instrumental role in the business’s success, first handling public relations and special events and, later, foraying into the retail business: hiring the architect and interior designer who would bring their vision to life and conceptualizing the type of shopping experience she wanted to create for their customers.

As she relates in her glorious coffee table book Art & Sole: A Spectacular Selection of More Than 150 Fantasy Art Shoes from the Stuart Weitzman Collection ($30 at Amazon.com), Jane Gershon wanted to create a fun and magical experience for customers who visited the Stuart Weitzman boutique, not simply pressure them into buying merchandise. Guided by her memories of shopping at the Atlanta-based department store Rich’s, she sought to “bring that Southern hospitality to Madison Avenue.” Part of how she accomplished that was through the elaborate window displays she oversaw, many of which featured fantasy shoes created by artists from all over the world. These gallery-worthy pieces were breathtaking — ranging from platform pumps fashioned out of fresh flowers to mules and slides crafted out of watercolor paper using origami-influenced techniques.

This book, then, features photographs of some of the most ingenious fantasy art shoes to be displayed at Stuart Weitzman — each page, then functions as its own storefront window, and we, as readers, get to press our noses against the glass (or, in this case, the paper) to more closely inspect the treasures therein.

These shoes will take your breath away — whether it’s the platform stiletto pumps that floral designer Jane Carroll constructed using burgundy dahlias, hocus pocus roses, and dusty miller leaves (shown first below); the mosaic-like, lace-up combat boots Sharon Von Senden created using stained glass, Swarovski crystals, and vintage stones (shown second below); the wedge sandals Robert Steele crafted out of corrugated cardboard; or the cheeky slide sandals Timothy Fortuna created using playing cards, poker chips, and mah-jongg tiles.

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A true conversation piece, this is the type of book that will wow art and fashion lovers alike and remind them that creativity knows no bounds!

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