Strut into WMODA

By Louise Irvine

Cinderella’s glass slippers have been upstaged at WMODA by Stern’s Stilettos in glass. The Miami glass artist was inspired by his wife’s shoe collection, which includes hundreds of pairs by designers such as Manola Blahnik, Jimmy Choo, and Alexander McQueen. Strut into WMODA to see Stern’s Stilettos, Rob Stern’s new exhibition of 50 glass shoes.

Stilettos are the ultimate in glamour and Glam-A-THON, the Broward-based breast cancer charity, has organized some fabulous fundraising walks in high heels. For many years during Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October, hundreds of women hit the pavement in Fort Lauderdale and put their best foot forward to “kiss breast cancer goodbye.” The Glam Doll Strut on the charity’s 5th anniversary in 2011 featured a walkathon with outrageous pink costumes and exquisite high heels embellished with rhinestones and studs. Their 10th Anniversary Strut featured the Sole Sisters and Glam-A-THON commissioned artists to paint giant stiletto shoes in honor of The Strut. The Glamour Stiletto Run in Cape Town, South Africa in 2010 required a minimum heel height of 2 ½ inches and ½ inch width with no wedges allowed. Not surprisingly, animal prints were very popular in the South African run. We look forward to future Glam-A-THON events.

Fairytale Slippers

The allure and vanity of shoes is portrayed in the fairytale about The Red Shoes by Hans Christian Anderson.  A poor orphan girl was adopted by a rich old lady and grows up vain and spoiled. She is given a pair of red shoes fit for a princess and insists on wearing them to church even though she is warned that only black shoes are proper. As she enters the church, a mysterious old soldier casts a spell on the red shoes so that they never come off. The girl is condemned to dance even after she dies as a warning to vain children everywhere. The fairytale inspired the classic backstage ballet movie, The Red Shoes, in 1948 which will be featured in our upcoming exhibition Fire & Soul from ballet to cabaret.

Even more famous are the ruby red shoes worn by Judy Garland as Dorothy in the 1939 Wizard of Oz movie. In L. Frank Baum’s original book from 1900, the shoes taken from the Wicked Witch were silver but the color was changed to take advantage of the new Technicolor film process. Several pairs were made for the film and each shoe was decorated with around 2,300 ruby sequins and red glass rhinestones in the bow. In honor of the movie’s 50th anniversary, Harry Winston created a pair of slippers with about 25 carats of diamonds and 1,500 carats of rubies. Valued at $3 million, they are reportedly the most expensive pair of shoes in the world. The 70th anniversary was commemorated by Swarovski Crystal with a charity contest to redesign the ruby slippers. Nineteen shoe designers participated and the results were truly wicked!

In 2015, Swarovski made the crystal slippers for Cinderella to wear to the ball in the live-action Disney movie and they played with the refractive qualities of light on faceted glass. Cinderella’s glass slippers in Charles Perrault’s fairytale have become symbols of transformation and only a magic spell makes them wearable by the heroine of the tale. However, several famous shoe designers created their own interpretation of the famed glass slippers, one of which Cinderella accidentally leaves behind at the stroke of midnight. The dazzling designs sold at Saks could make dreams come true and transform a modern woman into a fairytale princess. For many little girls, Disney’s movies have ignited a love affair with shoes that never fade.

Shoes @ WMODA

WMODA visitors will be dazzled by Stern’s Stilettos, a fabulous exhibition of glass shoes by Miami artist, Rob Stern. This one-of-a-kind installation, featuring 50 different glass shoes in myriad colors and glassmaking techniques, attempts to capture and reflect some of the many moods and moments in a woman’s life. Look out also for the glass mosaic shoes created by Brazilian mosaic artist, Celina Lima, which range in style from stilettos to clogs.

There is even a shoe connection with the famous Wedgwood Pottery as they made ceramic heels in Black Basalt and Jasper Ware for the Rayne Shoe Company in Britain in the 1950s and 1970s. You can read more about them in our Wearable Wedgwood Highlights blog.

For those of us who can no longer strut about on high heels for charity or otherwise, Vicki Rosenthal has another solution. She is a social impact visual artist on a mission to advance advocacy through authentic art. She has created My Soul My Shoes™ and paints custom art designs of your causes on ethically manufactured shoes. During the pandemic, she launched Wear your Soul – Share your Story, a community platform for sharing stories of struggle and success! For all her artwork sold, Vicki invests 10 % of net profits back to grassroots causes.