Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Q&A with author Jane Gershon Weitzman

Jane Gershon Weitzman is the author of Art & Sole, a selection of art shoes from the Stuart Weitzman Collection. Over the years, Jane Gershon Weitzman commissioned more than 1,000 fantasy shoes to display in her husband's Madison Avenue store. She was executive vice president of Stuart Weitzman, and first vice president of Stuart Weitzman Retail.

Q: Why did you decide to compile this book?

A: After we sold the company, and we didn’t use the shoes any more, people asked, “Where are they?”

Q: What is it about shoes that fascinate so many people?

A: I really don’t know, but I think it’s because everyone can afford a beautiful shoe, whether it’s a copy or it’s [real].

Q: How did you select the artists with whom you collaborated?

A: I just went with my feelings, if I liked something. I was never able to get a glass shoe. But I think I got some great ones.

Q: Do you have any particular favorites among the shoes in the collection?

A: Everyone always asks that, but no, I like so many of them.

Q: What’s been the reaction to the book?

A: People seem to like it. They buy it as gifts; they buy it in multiples. People give it to their grandmothers who are over 90. I think it’s something people can give for any occasion—it’s not very expensive, it’s less than a really good box of chocolates or a plant.

Q: How long did it take to work on the book?

A: It took a long time; even the photography took a very long time, because we had to change the lighting for every artist, change the background. I had a wonderful photographer, so that was helpful.

It was not as easy as I expected. It took me years to accumulate the shoes. And for every shoe you see, there are a lot you don’t see. We picked these out of thousands.

It took over a year to put the book together. I worked with the photographer, and the publisher weighed in. I did it with people who were invaluable in helping me.

Q: What did you learn from working on the project?

A: I feel like I could do it again, better!

Q: Are you thinking about another book?

A: At this point, I don’t know. I’m just getting started promoting this, doing charitable events, [appearing] at book fairs, bookstores. I can’t really think about the next book, just the next city.

Q: Where is your book tour going?

I was in Memphis, and Sewickley, Pennsylvania, a beautiful suburb of Pittsburgh. I just got started; the book is so new. I’m going to Atlanta, Bloomfield Hills, Hartford, Las Vegas, Chicago, Miami. By spring, I’ll have been to 30 cities.

Q: What did the original shoe displays in the windows of your store mean to people?

A: It was like an art show that changed monthly. People visiting New York would come at the end and then come again to see the new window. We had a very good response.

Q: Anything else we should know?

A: Any royalties from the book will go to charity. This was really a labor of love.

--Interview with Deborah Kalb. This interview was conducted in conjunction with The Lessans Family Annual Book Festival at The JCC of Greater Washington. Jane Gershon Weitzman will be speaking at the festival on Wednesday, November 13, at 7:30pm.

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