Book Review: Beth Levine Shoes

Collected by Blahnik and lauded by Louboutin, Beth Levine is one of the unsung deisgn heroes of shoe history. The late Levine was a show model whose ideas were stomped on by male footwear execs; in her time “it seemed right that a shoemaker was a man.” So, when she designed shoes for her own label in 1949, it was named Herbert Levine after her husband and business partner. Levine refused to sell uncomfortable shoes for women, testing every pair herself – turning shoes from sadomasochistic tootsie-torture-chambers into hedonistic paraffin-wax-paradises. She goes down in history as the birth mother of the fashion boot and the rhinestone encrusted shoe, as well as one of the many who lays claim to inventing the stiletto. In a seemingly innocuous biography – half of which is pictures of Levine’s work – Verin supports her argument that Levine matters. I bought it. By presenting Levine in all her womanly, pioneering glory, Verin is helping to re-write popular fashion history – and Levine’s role therein.

by Helene Verin (Stewart, Tabori, and Chang)
reviewed by Stephanie Herold (originally published in Worn Fashion Journal Issue 9)

photography by Jessica da Silva