On December 13th, The Early Show on CBS aired a great little segment by Katrina Szish about the life and work of Stuart Weitzman, the talented shoe designer often known as the King of the Red Carpet. Stuart Weitzman shoes are a staple in the high end dress shoe category and this insight into the designer’s world was an inspiration for me to watch. Last year Weitzman sold a majority stake of his company to the Jones Group, and the rumor that he might sell off the rest by the end of next year was the critical news bite that prompted the interview. With Weitzman, at 70 years old, still sketching 1000 shoe designs every season and presiding as lead designer on every single pair of shoes he sells, the industry is definitely wondering about his plans for the future. But even more than this prolific work ethic, put into 25 years at the company that bares his name, it’s Weitzman’s attitude about his work that is the most inspiring. Much like myself, he calls it his hobby. When Katrina asks if relinquishing the remaining shares to the Jones Group would translate into retirement, Weitzman answers laughingly, “No. You retire from a job, but who retires from a hobby? I don’t think anybody does. I certainly won’t.”
Above is a screen shot of Stuart Weitzman proudly showing off the upper of the first shoe he made, called Sheer Delight. To make this this elegant jewel encrusted style, the nude mesh is cut away leaving a scalloped throat-line around the foot. Pulling this piece out of the archives, Weitzman is struck with the idea that they should bring this beautiful design back into the line and start producing it again! Sheer Delight would definitely be perfect for a Cinderella style wedding and I love that Weitzman and I share a love for creating memorable wedding shoes that are artistically detailed. He explains, “When I began this business, I began as a maker of bridal shoes. It was an opening; it was a niche. I went into it. Started to make them, and then evening shoes and party shoes. And we still make bridal shoes as a big part of our business.”
As a tribute to this Stuart Weitzman theme, I dug out some SW shoes from my own collection, circa 2005: a unique pair of blue leopard hair calf driving mocs with oversized crystal keepers on the vamp. Although there’s not a picture of it, the leather bottoms have big rubber SW letters as the forefoot tread. I remember these instantly catching my magpie eyes, trained to spot sparkle and whimsy from a mile away, back when I was designing children’s shoes at Stride Rite. I didn’t wear them much while living in California, but upon reuniting with them this past weekend at the library, I realized they’re still pretty irresistible. The way they liven up a preppy East Coast winter outfit is definitely worth working them back into rotation, with the added benefit that now every time I wear them, I’ll be reminded of the great inspiration that is Stuart Weitzman.