Shoe Designer Beth Levine Exhibit At The Long Island Museum

Beth Levine summer boot
Beth Levine summer boot, 1970.
Courtesy of Long Island Musuem.

The work of legendary footwear designer Beth Levine, who died in 2006 at the age of 91, is being celebrated at the Long Island Musuem. The exhibition, titled Beth Levine: The First Lady of Shoes, runs from Aug. 21 through Jan. 4.

The show will feature footwear, photographs, memorabilia, illustrations, accessories, film footage and artifacts from public and private collections.

Beth and husband Herbert Levine, a shoe manufacturer, were a dynamic duo in the footwear world, with Levine designing shoes under the Herbert Levine name beginning in the ’40s. Over the years, her shoes were worn by Hollywood icons and First Ladies, including Marilyn Monroe, Ava Gardner and Lauren Bacall, as well as Pat Nixon and Jacqueline Kennedy.

Among Levine’s most iconic looks were a pair of white boots she made for Frank Sinatra’s daughter, Nancy Sinatra, for a ’60s music video of her hit song, “These Boots Are Made For Walkin’.”  She also designed shoes Barbra Streisand wore in the movie “Funny Girl.”

The petite designer, who wore a size 4, was a rebel in the shoe world, challenging traditional design to create often outrageous looks that helped shape 20th century design. Nothing was off-limits for Levine, including a driving shoe that resembled an actual race car and an evening shoe that was reminiscent of Aladdin’s lamp.

Levine also collaborated with well-known ready-to-wear designers, including Halston, Geoffrey Beene and Bill Blass. She also took to the skies, designing the footwear for the flight attendants at now-defunct Braniff Airlines.

The museum exhibit was curated by Helene Verin, an adjunct professor at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York. Verin has also authored a book about Levine, “Beth Levine Shoes.”

Among her other achievements, Levine received Coty Awards in 1967 and 1976, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art included her work in an exhibition.