This is one of my favorite pairs of vintage shoes! I love the color and the style, and the Herbert Levine last fits me like a dream.
Plus, I had the pleasure of knowing Herbert and Beth Levine and their daughter when I was dancing in New York with the City Center Robert Joffrey Ballet Company. They kindly invited me to live with them when I first moved to New York City as a young ballet dancer on a Ford Foundation Scholarship . They were always interested in artists and very supportive of them. They were wonderful friends.
While living in their home I met many interesting people, including Henri Bendel who came to dinner once a week, the photographer Hiro, and Mr. Conde Nast who was a real person. They lived in a very modest and tiny two bedroom apartment on East 12th Street in The Village.
The notorious guests liked to come their to relax and eat their cook’s most amazing I have ever tasted crispy and delicious Long Island Duck. I wondered if it was the special duck that made it so delectable or the way it was cooked. It was the latter. On a trip to LI I asked Herbert which duck of a large gaggle of assorted types of ducks we passed was the delectable and famous Long Island Duck and he replied, “Any duck on Long Island!” They knew because Beth had grown up on a LI farm and told me she had plucked ducks as a girl for that recipe on the farm. Beth was a very down to earth talented woman who became a famous shoe designer and ended up winning the Coty awards and hanging out with the rich and famous ~ but she retained her earthy qualities.
Beth Levine actually designed the all shoes, but the company was named Herbert Levine by the couple because they were afraid buyers would not purchase shoes made and manufactured by a woman when they began. Herbert was the business brain behind the company and he was absolutely brilliant. He was incredibly supportive of his wife’s talent and promoted her endlessly. They had a fabulous partnership ~ both personally and as business partners. it was a privilege to know them. And I learned a lot about shoes from them!
These shoes are special to me because of my relationship with the designers as well as for their own beauty.
Beth Levine often said, “If your feet hurt, my feet hurt.” Her shoes were elegant and incredibly comfortable. There is not another designer’s shoes to this day that are as comfortable for me as hers. She really meant what she said and knew what she was doing.
Last year a retrospective show of her work was held in the Bellevue Art Museum near Seattle where I live. Of course I attended. It was excellent and I know the show has traveled around to museums throughout the country. I highly recommend seeing it if you have the chance.
I have collected a lot of beautiful vintage shoes, many of historic quality. I owe my interest in and knowledge about shoes to the Levines! They got me started and taught me to appreciate quality shoe design as well as appearance. I was exposed to the very best. Being a young ballet dancer I could not afford a lot of expensive shoes, but Beth saw to it that I was supplied. She gave me shoes so I would be properly shod at all times in New York City!
People ask me, but these shoes are not for sale! They are and will remain part of my personal collection!