Two advanced art students at Byram Hills High School were crowned winners in a footwear-design competition sponsored by renowned shoe designer Stuart Weitzman and the New-York Historical Society, and a third student was a finalist.
More than 100 high school students from the tri-state area competed in the Stuart Weitzman Footwear Design Competition, which had two categories. Byram Hills senior Danielle Fliegel won the material innovation category while junior Samantha Efobi tied with another student to win the socially conscious fashion category. Senior Alix Weiss was a finalist in the socially conscious fashion category.
“We were really gratified that our kids were able to get the recognition that they deserve,” said visual arts teacher Amy Menasche, who counts Danielle and Samantha as her students. “Our students are immensely talented.”
Designer Stuart Weitzman fabricated the three winning pairs of shoes, with one of each on display at the New-York Historical Society as part of the exhibit titled “Walk this Way: Footwear from the Stuart Weitzman Collection of Historic Shoes.”
Mrs. Menasche and the three Byram Hills students attended the opening reception in April, along with Mr. Weitzman and other dignitaries.
“The opening was really spectacular,” she said. “All the VIPs were touring the show and asking our students lots of questions. They were interacting with many people in the fashion and museum world. It was pretty amazing.”
To compete, students were asked in part to design a shoe that was inspired by the collections of the New-York Historical Society and/or Stuart Weitzman and that takes functionality and aesthetic into consideration. Students submitted original designs for their shoes or made actual shoes.
In her written entry, Danielle said she was initially inspired by an exhibit on antique silver but wanted to put a modern and industrial twist on her design. She used unconventional materials, including silver bubble wrap, wire mesh and paper. Instead of laces, she used drawstrings.
Her design, also inspired by high-fashion streetwear labels, includes modern and traditional elements and is intended for men and women to be worn in casual and formal settings. Her shoe was named “Ziggy.”
“Danielle's design truly is innovative in its use of materials and it was beautifully crafted,” Mrs. Menasche said. “It also reflects an understanding of what's on the cutting edge of fashion today and introduced some novel ideas at the same time. I'm not at all surprised she won.”
Samantha said in her entry that her design represents something she sometimes takes for granted - her education, and shows her interest in education for all women and girls. Her design called for the use of newspaper to symbolize books and education. The heel of her shoe, dubbed “Empowerment,” is three stacked books, and carved into them is the message “Education for All.”
“From the very beginning of the project, Samantha had a clear vision of what she wanted to do,” Mrs. Menasche said. “It was reflected in a detailed sketch that she faithfully translated into a powerful three-dimensional design using clay, wire and newspaper.”
Alix’s design draws upon an exhibit on slavery and the Civil War. It features a footbed of cotton, a bit of green at the bottom of the heel to represent plantation fields and chains of metal across the toes to represent shackles.
Mrs. Menasche said the winning designs produced by Mr. Weitzman were beautiful.
“The workmanship on them was terrific,” she said. “They were amazingly faithful to the kids’ designs.”
The exhibit runs through Oct. 8.