May 19, 2019 § Leave a comment
“Camp tends to come during times of cultural instability.” Andrew Bolton, curator of The Costume Exhibit
I really love this exhibit at The Met right now. It beautifully encompasses for me everything that’s wonderful about fashion. Is it perfect? Probably not, but that doesn’t make it any less special. The exhibit was inspired by Susan Sontag’s 1964 Notes On “Camp” She wrote Many things in the world have not been named; and many things, even if they have been named, have never been described. One of these is the sensibility — unmistakably modern, a variant of sophistication but hardly identical with it — that goes by the cult name of “Camp.”
March 2, 2019 § Leave a comment
When most people think of Andy Warhol they think of his Campbell Soup cans or his Marilyn Monroe portrait, but when I think of Andy Warhol I think of his shoe illustrations and that he was the chief illustrator in the 1950s for I. Miller shoes when my grandfather was the General Manager. I like to think they may have worked together, but lately, I look at this shoe ad of one of my grandfather’s designs and I have to wonder did he illustrate it? The photos below were taken at The Whitney Museum of Art. The Warhol exhibit ends at the end of March. I was struck by how prolific he was as an artist and how at the time he was creating his pop art many didn’t think it was art and I assume there are some now that still don’t, but regardless of what you think about his art, he captured the 20th century creating a better time capsule for future generations than one could ever have imagined through his portraits, illustrations, and films.
August 12, 2018 § 1 Comment
My sister, former dancer turned television writer Liz Benjamin shared with me a video circulating on social media on how Freed pointe shoes are made. She reminded me that our grandfather, Ben Benjamin always wanted to inspect her point shoes, especially when she had switched from Capezio to Freed. She said he was fascinated by the workmanship. Watch the short video above and you’ll see why!
Pain, satin and paper towels: What it takes for ballerinas to dance on their toes Washington Post May 26, 2017
April 14, 2018 § Leave a comment
February 1, 2018 § Leave a comment
Ben Benjamin: “Cause while he met me he didn’t know anything about me, so uh he went and spoke to his old boss about me, and a few other people. His old boss says to him, he says if you two can get along, he says you can be the biggest men in this town in the shoe business. He says you (Ben Schwartz) in the selling end of it and Ben running the factory. He’s a good factory man, designer – but you’ve got to learn to live with one another, and we got a long fine – When I first told him I wanted to get out, he says no, he wouldn’t let me. Now in all those years, we never had a fight. We never had an argument.”
May 15, 2016 § 1 Comment
I posted this photo a while back I found of my grandfather from 1972 at the offices of Schwartz and Benjamin in New York. I wish I knew who the man in the photo was. From the expression on my grandfather’s face and his clenched fist I think it may be Sam Schwartz, Ben Schwartz his former partner’s brother.
May 12, 2016 § 4 Comments
Looking for one of my grandfather’s shoe designs I previously found in Google Patents – It seems to have vanished? During my search I clicked on another patent from the same time frame hoping to find a connection. See the shoe above. I previously mentioned in an earlier post that I thought it looked very similar to a Jimmy Choo design. This time when I clicked on the link I noticed that the patent was indeed referenced by Jimmy Choo and also Hermes. Last summer I took a picture of this Salvatore Ferragamo shoe that also references my grandfather’s original design from 1934.
So many years later and my grandfather’s designs are still living on. He was a true innovator in women’s fashion who deserves to be recognized for his creativity and ingenuity – the motivation behind starting this blog. As children he told us that when he couldn’t sleep he would lie in bed and imagine fantastic inventions he would create, an orphan that chose the shoe business out of practicality. Forced to leave school at 13 he rose to be one of the biggest shoe men in New York and even after he retired to Florida was appointed by The Secretary of Labor to represent the US in labor relations in Puerto Rico, the date still a mystery I’m trying to solve. I can only imagine what he would have done with his creativity if the playing field had been more level for him. With my own child starting middle school this fall I toured some of the top-tier NYC private schools – even though I questioned how we would ever pay the 45k yearly tuition. In the end we chose public with our eyes wide open that the playing field in education is indeed not level but there are those that like my grandfather will make it no matter what hand they are dealt. Like my voice teacher Betty Allen whose mother died when she was also 12 and who like my grandfather shared a similarly grim childhood overcoming insurmountable obstacles to live a life that most of us can only hope for.
And like my grandfather she also made her own way. Betty told me after her mother died her father drank and wasn’t taking care of her the way she was use to by her mother so she took the bus to the courthouse in Youngstown Ohio where she lived and told the judge she wanted to be adopted. Since there were no orphanages for black children she was put into foster care where she was made to work and abused and when she was 16 she moved into the YWCA cleaning houses to support herself. Eventually on scholarship she attended Wilberforce College in Wilberforce, Ohio, crediting her success to her teachers. These are the stories that inspire me. Maybe because I’ve never had to really want the way they both did. – Again my search for a shoe led me back to why I want to share my grandfather’s story and remember.
December 26, 2015 § 1 Comment
July 3, 2015 § Leave a comment