As wife of designer Stuart Weitzman and EVP of their company, Jane Weitzman helped build one of fashion’s most iconic brands. In a wide-ranging discussion, Jane chatted with Style Maniac about her charitable work to fight ovarian and breast cancer, the reason for the longevity of the Stuart Weitzman label and her gorgeous little coffee table book Art & Sole, which features the first-ever compilation of 150 styles from the Stuart Weitzman fantasy art shoe collection -- a signed copy of which we are GIVING AWAY to one lucky reader -- I even got Jane to reveal the (real) shoes from her extensive collection that regularly get her stopped on the street. Yes, ladies, leopard is involved!
Here, with great pleasure, I share the Style Maniac interview with author, entrepreneur, philanthropist and shoe lover Jane Weitzman.
DOREEN CREEDE / STYLE MANIAC: How did the Stuart Weitzman fantasy art shoe collaborations work?
JANE WEITZMAN: Some shoes I found. If I liked an artist’s work, I’d ask them to create a shoe. At first I got sneakers, cowboy boots. Then I asked Stuart to draw a simple stiletto and gave artist’s that to work from. That really worked much better.
How many fantasy shoes were made?
Over 1,000. In the beginning we rotated displays every month until we sold the company.
Is there a Cinderella shoe?
We never did get a Cinderella glass shoe, but it wasn’t for lack of trying. There are commercially made glass shoes, but they were never right for window display and the glass workers I contacted never came through.
What happened to the art shoes?
Some we sold right off the floor. At the beginning, I was so happy to get the money from them to create the next window, I didn’t think of keeping them. Later artists made shoes for us to sell. We sold a lot of Charlene Clark’s papier-mâché shoes, which were at a price range that we could keep them in stock.
Any plans for an exhibit?
You were the first Vice President of Stuart Weitzman Retail. Any tips on customer service?
Customer service is as important as product. It's about how you treat customers, how you go out of your way to get something for them, how you welcome them. I felt there should be a graciousness about the store. Nothing pushy. Welcome a customer, let her know you are there if she needs help, and then let her shop.
Do you think good service accounts for the longevity of the Stuart Weitzman brand?
Well, having said that, the real truth: it's Stuart’s genius in not just designing shoes but making them fit.
I saw a video where Stuart says he’s always delighted to see his shoes on the street and will stop the woman wearing them to chat.
He does! No matter where we are in the world, he’ll stop to talk with a woman wearing his shoes.
How many pairs of Stuart Weitzman shoes do you have in your personal collection?
Everyone asks me that and I just say … “A lot.”
Do you have a favorite (real) pair of Stuart Weitzman shoes?
Picking a favorite is like picking children. I can't do it. But there are a few pairs that people stop me whenever I wear them. Such as pavé heels in Swarovski crystal. And a pair of all-over leopard skin boots. I had those done in a flat heel so I can really walk around. Timeless.
What has surprised you most about Art & Sole?
The response. I really thought it would come out, have a season and that would be it. But word of mouth has been amazing. I’m very lucky. I guess it’s a timeless subject that people love.
"Use the good china for breakfast."