Designers Levine, Beth

Levine, Beth

Beth Levine was born in New York in 1914. She worked in journalism and advertising before she started working as a shoe model for Palter-Deliso, the firm that shocked the public in the late 30's by selling open-toed shoes. In the 40s like David Evins, Beth worked for I.Miller company.

Beth had always dreamt of making shoes and two years after she married businessman and shoe designer Herbert Levine in 1944, they started their own shoe company. Herbert was more in charge of the business side and Beth was the creative engine that thought up outrageous models.

In the 50's, she designed an invisible sandal from graceful undulating strips of plastic. Another design was the kidskin heel resembling a tightly wound spool of silver. In 1958 the window of Tiffany, the New York jewelers, had a collection of priceless gems and a shoe from Beth Levine with peacock's plumes on it.

Halston and other trendsetters were among the clients who regularly dropped by her Manhattan studio, as were Babe Paley, Bette Davis and Barbra Streisand. When Liza Minnelli needed a pair of untraditional wedding shoes, she took a pair of sequined pumps from Beth Levine. Nancy Sinatra recorded a song "These boots are made for Walking" and it was Levine's boots she was singing about.

She had no formal training, but managed to lure the industry's top craftsmen to work for her, hand-carving lasts and perfectly matching the exotic skins she was known to use. She had an uncanny knack for predicting trends, and pioneered rhinestone pave pumps, shoe stockings, and stretch vinyl boots in the early 50's a full decade before the rest of the world discovered them.

Beth constantly experimented with materials, ultrasuede, Astroturf, frog skin and so on. She created a "topless" shoe, which stuck to a woman's foot with adhesive pads and it worked, they even had movies of a woman dancing in a pair of "topless" shoes. They never caught on, anyway.

In 1964, she devised spare, aerodynamically daring "Kabuki" pumps to give the illusion of flight, allowing the wearer to feel as if she were walking on air. The couple was open to the influence of pop art and produced shoes that looked like sports cars of Alladins lamps.

Beth Levine has also created her own line of shoes called "Beth's Bootery". A little more youthful and not as cutting edge as earlier Levine shoes often are, they still hold their fashionable smarts after thirty years.

Beth and Herbert won a Coty award in 1967 for their stretch boots and Neiman Marcus award for their contribution to the industry.

She retired from the business in 1976 and although the company no longer exists, they remain a huge influence on shoes design and their shoes are valued as collectors items.


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