Beth Levine (American, Patchogue, New York 1914–2006 New York)
Herbert Levine Inc. (American, founded 1949)
3 x 9 in. (7.6 x 22.9 cm)
Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of the Brooklyn Museum, 2009; Gift of Beth Levine in memory of her husband, Herbert, 1994
Not on view
Beth Levine's ingenious and witty designs, experimentation with novel materials, and ability to invent practical solutions have earned her the place of top female shoe designer of the 20th century. Levine was particularly adept at predicting future trends and devising structural innovations. Chief among her achievements were the popularization of the fashion boot in the 1960s, the use of vinyl and spandex, and the inventions of the Spring-o-lator mule, the stocking shoe, and the topless shoe. These boundary-breaking innovations earned Levine a Coty award 1967. The "Kabuki" line was inspired by traditional Asian footwear, borrowing its inspiration primarily from Manchu platform shoes. The line included pump and mule styles in a variety of satin fabrics, metallic leathers, and Persian lamb, with gilt or lacquered wooden soles. Often praised for their aerodynamic feeling, the shoes can be seen to presage much heavier versions of the platform sole to come.