For Stuart Weitzman, broadcast journalist and television personality Barbara Walters helped him realize early on the power of celebrities.
To hear Weitzman tell it, Walters was becoming a pioneering name in the mid-1970s, thanks to high-profile interviews with Henry Kissinger and Israel’s then-prime minister, Menachem Begin. She was also upping her fashion stakes.
According to Weitzman, the “ABC Evening News” anchor called him. Thinking he could be the subject of her next big interview, Weitzman’s heart began to accelerate. “She said, ‘I have a pair of your shoes, and I hope there is something you can help me with.’ I thought she was going to ask me for [shoes] for nothing,” Weitzman recalled.
But Walters didn’t want any freebies. Instead, said Weitzman, she wondered if he could produce one of his white lace bridal shoes in other colors. The designer obliged — and Walters paid for the new shoes.
It also turned a young Weitzman on to the idea of actively getting his shoes placed on celebrities and red carpets. Thirty years later, the two would cross paths again at a New York City restaurant.
Now a well-established fashion force, Weitzman approached her table armed with a coy line. “I said, ‘Before I tell you who I am, I wanted to ask if you’re still an 8½ quad A.’ She asked how I would know that. I said, ‘I made you a lace pump when I first started out, and it was an inspiration to do that,’ ” Weitzman said. “Boy, she started the whole game rolling.”