08 October, 2013

Review: Art And Sole by Jane Gershon Weitzman

* A version of this review first appeared at Love In The Margins.
Strictly speaking, Art & Sole doesn't fit our concept. That said, if you spend very long in romance circles you will find that shoes are an amazingly frequent topic of conversation. If we made a word cloud, Zappos would dominate. I don't know what it is about the shoe. Cinderella, sure, but most romance heroines obsess on their dresses and rarely mention their footwear. In women's footwear it often seems like the least practical and most painful shoe is the most coveted. While I admire a perfectly painful high heel I don't wear them. I appreciate them as art alone.
Art & Sole is not devoted to wearable shoes. Weitzman has assembled a representative sample of the art commissioned for Stuart Weitzman window displays. It's lovely. This is a true art book, devoid of text. Each page is a carefully photographed art piece inspired by the concept of a shoe. From frosting to needle work to glass to gemstones, each piece inspires you to think what if? What if this were truly a shoe? Would I wear it? Who would I be with these on my feet? Who walks on a bed of diamonds? Why do I think she's the evil one in that tale?
Perhaps shoes appeal to so many because they offer the possibility of transformation. Walk a mile in the other man's shoes. Grab something sensible. Put on your dancing shoes. Become, for a moment, someone other than yourself. The flights of fancy in Art & Sole make it an interesting coffee table book. They offer studies in structural design as well as aesthetics. Some of the shoes appear wearable, despite their lack of function. All of them ask you to imagine the girl who wears them.
At the end Weitzman includes small bios with contact information for most of the 33 artists she features.  I was surprised to see baker Sylvia Weinstock among them. (I was even more surprised by which pieces were credited to her.) This would be a lovely present for a fashion student. I'm having a hard time keeping it intact. Linda Leviton's pages are begging to be removed for framing. Weitzman has pledged her royalties from Art & Sole to charity. October (of course) is for breast cancer research.

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