Delman Shoes Celebrated In Work of Erté At The Met Museum

Erte shoe art for Delman
Shoe designs created by artist Erté for Delman
Courtesy of Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Two legends are being remembered in an exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Celebrating the 25th anniversary of the death of artist Romain de Tirtoff, better known as Erté, a selection of shoe-inspired art work he did for famed New York  manufacturer Herman Delman, is being shown through Sept. 28 at the museum’s Robert Wood Johnson, Jr. Gallery. The museum acquired 13 original shoe designs by Erté for Delman in 1967.

Delman founded his namesake company in 1919 with a small shoe store on Madison Avenue. Admiring the work of Erté he had seen in Harper’s Bazaar, he asked its then editor-at-large Henry Blackman Sell to introduce him to Erté, tapping him to create designs for advertistments and limited-edition shoes under the Delman label.

Erte illustrations from the Delman archive. Erté illustrations from the Delman archive. Courtesy of Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The collaboration continued for several years. However, gouaches — paintings defined by their use of opaque watercolors — are the only examples of his shoe designs that survived and currently featured in the exhibit. However, the museum’s Costume Institute includes other examples of Delman footwear from the same period of the ’30s.

Delman Shoes Delman Shoes from the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art Metropolitan Museum of Art

Today, Delman is a division of Nina Footwear Corp. Over the years, it employed footwear icons such as Roger Vivier, Herbert Levine and Kenneth Jay Lane. Among its celebrity clients were Marilyn Monroe, Joan Crawford and Marlene Dietrich, as well as current names including Anne Hathaway, Blake Lively and Leighton Meeseter.