Scandal Sandals and Lady Slippers: A History of Delman Shoes
The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) presents Scandal Sandals and Lady Slippers: A History of Delman Shoes, the first exhibition devoted to the Delman brand. Founded by Herman Delman in 1919 and today one of the oldest salon footwear brands in the United States, Delman's glamorous, innovative, and classic shoes have been a cornerstone of the fashionable and quality-conscious woman's wardrobe for the past 90 years. The company is known for embodying all that is chic, luxurious, and sophisticated. Scandal Sandals and Lady Slippers: A History of Delman Shoes will explore and reveal the company's vibrant history of style, advertising, and fine craftsmanship.
Drawing from the permanent collections of both The Museum at FIT and the Delman archives, approximately 50 dazzling shoe styles will be presented alongside period examples of print advertisements, newsreel footage, and illustrated patents. These objects, dating roughly from 1926 to 2007, will chronicle the company's rich history and creativity in both design and business.
Among the shoes on display will be a pair of multicolored, floral booties with a turn-back throat from the 1950s. Boldly original in their dramatic use of blue and purple hues, the booties draw attention to the lower leg. A pair of suede, instep strap sandals from circa 1939 performs a similar function. Boasting red, white, green, and blue color sections, four tiny bows are sequenced delicately down the vamp while a narrow ankle buckle strap, oval toe, and triangular heel maintain the shoe's elegant silhouette.
Herman Delman, who specialized in building shoes that were chic, yet comfortable, believed that skilled construction was essential to the creation of a quality shoe. He also was keenly aware of the importance of style and employed several notable designers over the years, including Roger Vivier, Herbert Levine, and Kenneth Jay Lane, as a means of shaping not only the aesthetic of his company but also the tastes of fashionable women across the country.
Scandal Sandals and Lady Slippers: A History of Delman Shoes will feature three decades of shoes designed by Roger Vivier, as well as a pair of circa 1965 white leather Mary Jane heels ornamented with multicolored embroidered flowers and conceived by Herbert Levine. Each of these examples represents the characteristic trends in women's footwear that helped to define the fashion-conscious woman's wardrobe.
Also on display, from Delman's “Moulin Rouge”collection, will be a pair of sling-back evening shoes that was featured in the company's 1952 fall/winter line. Covered in bright red satin, these exquisitely designed shoes feature an open toe and draped vamp with peaked throat. A tall continental heel and halter-style buckle sling strap add to the luxurious craftsmanship of the shoes while simultaneously maintaining a high level of comfort.
Herman Delman's savvy proficiency as a businessman and extroverted personality was frequently realized through his use of exquisitely illustrated advertisements and eye-catching window displays (the Delman store on Madison Avenue featured an oval window showcasing three cobblers at work), as well as his early understanding of the power of celebrity. His designs will forever be associated with iconic leading ladies of the Silver Screen. Marilyn Monroe, Joan Crawford, and Marlene Dietrich all wore Delman, while today celebrities such as Anne Hathaway, Blake Lively, and Leighton Meester are often spotted wearing the company's designs at premieres and in photographs.