Neiman Marcus Raises Awareness
STUART WEITZMAN’S best foot forward
Since the inception of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October, top shoe designer Stuart Weitzman and others in his industry have raised millions to beat the disease. In 2000, Weitzman began “Bid for the Cure,” a celebrity-designed shoe auction to benefit breast cancer research. Noted celebrities begin with a signature pair of Weitzman’s stiletto heels, then embellish and decorate the shoes before the signature pieces are then auctioned.
The American Cancer Society estimates that 200,000 new cases of breast cancer will be diagnosed this year, resulting in 40,000 deaths. Recently, Neiman Marcus Mazza Gallerie and anchor Andrea Roane hosted a luncheon on October 7 to unveil the designer’s fall line while raising awareness for the Judith A. Lese Breast Cancer Foundation. Lese, an elementary school teacher in Montgomery County for over 30 years, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2002. Her grassroots organization has donated over $15,000 to Sibley Center for Breast Health.
“The first year [of Bid For the Cure] the theme was women so celebrities such as Nicole Kidman and Tina Turner made art out of shoes. The next year we wanted men, so actors such as Michael Douglas and Tom Hanks became involved, and then the theme was athletes,” Weitzman explained. “The rest of the industry picked it up and this year we’ve paired with chefs and in five years we’ve raised over $10 million.”
This year, Weitzman paired with the Food Network to decorate and design his shoes, which were auctioned off on their respective websites. Celebrity chefs Paula Deen, Mario Batali and Sandra Lee, among others, created distinctive designs, some using candy bars, toffee, and cherries to adorn their stilettos. At press time, chef Rachel Ray’s baby blue heels inspired by her recipe for “You won’t be single for long vodka cream pasta” had the highest bid at just over $3,000. When asked which pair of “shoe art” got the highest bid ever, Weitzman reports “Tina Turner at $16,000. She signed her name 500 times.”
What shoe trends to expect this season? “Boots, boots, boots,” Weitzman says. “The denim jean generation are influencing shoes—Western boots and slouch boots with jeans tucked inside. Since day shoes are so casual, evening shoes are more formal. Peep-toes like the ones your grandmother wore are also in for the evening.” In the spring Weitzman says we should expect to see variety of sandals and platform shoes but not the painful-to-wear platform shoes of the past. The new platform materials are “spongy and comfortable,” he reports. Whew!