Frankly, I wanted more fabulous.

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Beth Levine: First Lady of Shoes at the Bellevue Arts Museum is okay, maybe even pretty good. But it is a show of vintage shoes. It should kill.

The history is cool enough. Levine was "first lady" in two ways: you know, leading lady, and then also a breakthrough lady in a male field. In 1953, she designed "Ballin' the Jack" (!), the first backless shoe to stay on the foot, thanks to a bridge of elastic that grips the arch of the foot. In 1957, with the help of Sara Little Turnbull, she created "No Shoe"—an entirely topless shoe using double-sided surgical pads and sold with a bottle of adhesive. Nancy Sinatra's boots made for walkin' were Levines. And in 1967, she made paper shoes out of laminated paper strips, paper money, and old newspapers.


But somehow I wanted more outrageous fabulousness—probably because of this photo advertising the show.


The actual full-length body stocking in the picture, which is attached to a clear vinyl shoe of stretch nylon lace with a black satin-covered heel, is in fact in the show—but it's in a vitrine all wormy and shriveled up, like stockings do when there's not a lady inside them. Duh. I wanted these stockings in action—even if they had to pay a jumping lady to jump (or, crazily, sit on a lazy Susan all day).

Some of the shoes weren't in mint condition (which put me in unpleasant mind of foot sweat), and some of the best shoes were in photos rather than in the room. Here's an example of a shoe I'd love to see not just in a photo.


But enough underwhelmtalk. There were some great shoes, and I took pictures. I'm going to post a bunch, because who doesn't love to look at shoe pictures? No human.

Disco meets royalty
  • Disco meets royalty

What ever happened to the stocking boot? Why are we not wearing these every day? Can we bring these back?
  • What ever happened to the stocking boot? Why are we not wearing these every day? Can we bring these back?

The amazing topless No Shoe! (With its bottle of adhesive.)
  • The amazing topless "No Shoe"! (With its bottle of adhesive.)

Hello, 1960s. Satin ribbon.
  • Hello, 1960s. Satin ribbon.

Introducing the fashion boot.
  • Introducing the fashion boot.

Pure sweet.
  • Pure sweet.

Its a car!
  • It's a car!

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Union Jaxxxxx.
  • Union Jaxxxxx.

Just a coupla lookers.
  • Just a coupla lookers.

The show is up through June 6.