NEW YORK – There would be no “happily ever after” for Cinderella without her glitzy glass slippers, so careful attention was paid to the shoes for the princess-to-be’s Broadway opening.
For “Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella,” which officially opened Sunday at the Broadway Theatre, costume designer William Ivey Long and footwear designer Stuart Weitzman created a pair of pumps so sparkly they “light up the upper balcony,” Weitzman says.
“The shoe is its own character in the show, and it will inspire the dream for so many other women.”
Shoe shopaholics and Carrie Bradshaw types surely have been inspired by the Cinderella fashion fantasy, muses Weitzman, a 26-year industry veteran. How could they not? After all, he says, Cinderella gets the shoes – flattering, delicate and powerful all at once – and then gets her Prince Charming.
When people describe the stunning bride or the prettiest red-carpet starlet, the comparison rarely – if ever – is made to Sleeping Beauty or Snow White.
It’s always Cinderella, belle of the ball.
“Cinderella is the gold standard for aspiration,” agrees Long. “The slippers are so iconic, and they are recognized worldwide.”
He says their only rival might be Dorothy’s red ruby slippers in “The Wizard of Oz.”
Because the shoes are so famous, the designers had to work with a certain set of expectations: The shoes had to be romantic and sexy, have a sparkly fairy-dust touch – and they had to be seen by everyone in the theater.
Actress Laura Osnes, who plays Cinderella, couldn’t risk shards and splinters from real glass, so the designers used Plexiglas instead.
Weitzman employed a welded-construction technique that uses no screws, normally used in high heels, so Cinderella could have a seamless look.
“This is the most magical world I’ve been asked to conjure up,” says Long, whose 60-plus show credits include costumes for “Chicago,” “Hairspray” and “The Boy From Oz.” Instead of going all Disney or using the famous French illustrations that came a century before (Cinderella-style folk tales are hundreds of years older than that) as inspiration, Long decided to weave nature – with an emphasis on butterflies and vines – into his visual picture instead of a particular time or place.
The idea that Cinderella had to be the most beautiful woman in the room, with the most gorgeous dress and coveted shoes, is what guided him and Weitzman, Long says.
They had to walk a fine line to avoid anything too gimmicky, even working on the giant Broadway stage, so they decided against threading lights through the heel of the shoe or other special effects.
Weitzman knows how to create shoes that light up a room. For years, he made “million-dollar Oscar shoes,” diamond-covered footwear that a celebrity would wear to the Academy Awards. He gave that up at the height of the recession, but says he can do pretty much the same dazzling look with crystals.
The designer says he could imagine his typical customer wearing a version of the Cinderella slipper at a summer party, a night at the opera or a night on the town. He adds: “It would be one sexy shoe with cool jeans.”
Yes, his Clearly Timeless collection based on the fairy-tale footwear is being shipped to stores.