Magazine article The New Yorker

If the Shoe Fits

Magazine article The New Yorker

If the Shoe Fits

Article excerpt

"Who is the first hero every little girl learns about?" Stuart Weitzman said the other day. If you guessed Cinderella, you are almost correct. "It's a pair of shoes," Weitzman went on. "A twenty-year-old girl can't tell you a fairy tale she knew before 'Cinderella,' and the hero of 'Cinderella' is the shoe. Before she's five years old, we've got her brainwashed."

In the sense that the villain of "Othello" is the handkerchief, he's not wrong. What is Cinderella if not the ultimate aspirational consumer? Weitzman, who took over his father's shoe business in 1965, knows the type: in 1971, he introduced a Cinderella-inspired transparent pump called the Expose, which sold at Saks and Neiman Marcus. So when the upcoming Broadway production of Rodgers and Hammerstein's "Cinderella" needed someone to design the glass slippers, the producers turned to him.

This isn't the first time that Weitzman has played fairy godmother. In 2002, the actress Laura Harring ("Mulholland Drive") wore his "million-dollar shoes"--platinum sandals encrusted with four hundred and sixty-four diamonds, requiring three bodyguards--to the Academy Awards. (A five-hundred-and-ninety-five-dollar version, the Millionairess, has been sold at Weitzman's boutiques.) He has since made Oscar super-shoes for Alison Krauss (jewelled stilettos featuring a five-carat amaretto diamond), and Kathleen (Bird) York (copper d'Orsay pumps festooned with earrings that had belonged to Rita Hayworth). Last summer, he custom-colored a pair of blue cork wedges for no less a Cinderella figure than Kate Middleton, who wore them for nine days during the London Olympics. "It was the darnedest thing," Weitzman said.

Still, not every pumpkin is meant to become a coach. In 2008, the screenwriter Diablo Cody ("Juno") ditched Weitzman's million-dollar T-straps days before the Oscars, claiming she'd been snared in a publicity stunt. ("I honestly thought they were just sparkly shoes," she wrote on MySpace.) In the Grimm brothers' version of "Cinderella," the evil stepsisters cut off a toe and a heel, respectively, to fit into the slipper. The prince rides off with each stepsister, only to turn back when he sees the shoe filling up with blood. …

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