As we all know, the retail business is in a state of flux: Henri Bendel is shutting its doors after 123 years, Lord & Taylor is closing its Fifth Avenue flagship store after 104 years and Ralph Lauren’s Fifth Avenue store is no more. (In 2017 there were 50 retail CEOs dismissed. Not in New York – in London.) Is there any good news anywhere?
Yes! In April 2018, Bloomingdale’s flagship store on 59th Street unveiled its redesigned (and gigantic 26,000 sq. ft.) Fifth Floor shoe department in an artsy new way: it installed larger-than-life stiletto displays throughout the entire store.
This over-the-top showmanship was kicked off with a cocktail party themed THE HEART OF SHOE YORK (a cute play on words) where guests could meet the talented artists who created this magic.
Each shoe is 6 ft. high at the back and 9 ft. long – really gigantic or, said differently, “Big News.”
THE LIBERTY SHOE
The Statue of Liberty stiletto created by G. Felix is my #1 favorite. Dazzling silver sequins on a black background create a glam art deco design. Or, as the artist says, “I wanted to create a fierce shoe that would rock in the Big Apple club scene.”
THE LIBERTY SHOE UP-CLOSE
Now, take a close look. The entire heel is the Statue of Liberty holding a gold pump instead of a torch. She also wears a red apple on her head. I love it! The artist is a member of the House of Xtravaganza – the only Latin group in the predominantly African-American ballroom scene in NYC.
THE BOLD SHOE
Frank Foster Post, the artist, says, “I like bold, black lines” and he makes very good use of them here. He has startling and even “macabre” faces as a design motif for his shoe – with the exception of the all-black heel (that has a touch of Christian Louboutin red).
The artist resides in Connecticut. His paintings can be seen in the U.S., Canada, Europe and Japan.
THE BUTTERFLY SHOE
Butterflies are everywhere here. Laurent-Kurz, the imaginative artist behind this creation, has made the heel of the shoe a sparkly black that matches the inside. For a touch of whimsy, he even has butterflies soaring high above the shoe (see top right).
THE BUTTERFLY SHOE: DETAILS
What inspired Laurent-Kurz to use butterflies? “My inspiration came from seeing Monarch butterflies cover the trees in a forest in Puebla, Mexico, which lies between Mexico City and Veracruz,” he says. “The Monarch is beautiful. Its black-orange-and-white colors are arranged in a distinctive pattern that makes it easy to identify.”
THE GRAFFITI SHOE
This is my #2 favorite shoe. I think it looks terrific against the black floor and black escalator – a great spot for this number. The artist, Chris Riggs, has been on the New York art scene since 1988. He is known for his colorful abstract canvases and murals.
The colors used for this shoe are explosive and daring: bright pink, lime green, sharp white, vivid blue and so on – it all works beautifully.
THE FLAME SHOE
The artist, Hector, is also a member of the House of Xtravaganza (like G. Felix). The back of his shoe (directly over the heel) has a provocative “flame” design – inside there is a leopard print that nicely balances the overall use of red.
Hector appeared in the documentary Paris is Burning that chronicles the 1980s Harlem drag balls. It was directed by Jennie Livingston and released in 1990. This film won the Grand Prize at the 1991 Sundance Film Festival – a copy can be bought on Amazon.
Photographed by Kristen Bannister
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