The James A. Michener Art Museum presents “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.
The 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 business-woman and philanthropist Jane Gershon Weitzman.
Laura Turner Igoe, Michener’s Chief Curator, said, “Walk This Way provides a unique look at the history of fashion, labor, and gender through a wide range of footwear. 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 women and diverse historical narratives around women’s labor activism, the fight for suffrage, and the sexual revolution.
This exhibition 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. “Walk This Way” 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 Stuart 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.