Collection SC.211 - Arsho Baghsarian Collection of Shoe Design, 1963-2008

Sketch for I. Miller Sketch for Shoestring Sketch for Dior

Identity area

Reference code

US NNFIT SC.211

Title

Arsho Baghsarian Collection of Shoe Design, 1963-2008

Date(s)

  • 1963-2008 (Creation)

Level of description

Collection

Extent and medium

26 cubic feet

Context area

Name of creator

Biographical history

Arsho Baghsarian was born in Turkey to Armenian parents and immigrated to the United States in 1957, during her teen years, eager to study design. She would receive her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree with honors in fashion design From the Pratt Institute in New York in 1962.
That same year, after she competed in a competition for best student fashion design among the top ten fashion students in the country and received the prestigious annual N.Y. Fashion Designer Celanese Award, Baghsarian briefly designed sportswear on 7th Avenue. However, a phone call from former professor Laura Tosato Busgang was the catalyst that caused the young woman, who during adolescence had cut out and laced cardboard soles with bright ribbons, to begin what would become a successful career spanning more than forty-five years in the footwear industry. The phone call concerned a position with Genesco that was designed to reinvigorate it Christian Dior, a position Baghsarian gladly accepted in 1963. Six months later the Christian Dior division of Genesco merged with I Miller, another division of Genesco. Baghsarian took over design for the new label until 1969. Before leaving the label and pursuing other projects within the footwear industry, Baghsarian received the Pellon Award, as well as won the Leather Industries of America’s American Shoe Designer Award in the women’s best footwear category in 1968.
From 1969 to 1971, Baghsarian designed for Andrew Geller’s Etcetera & Adlib lines. After she teamed up with Jerry Miller and helped design his Margaret Jerrold and Shoe Biz lines. (Jerry Miller’s grandfather founded I. Miller, which he worked for until I. Miller was bought by Genesco and he started his own line.) She credits her fifteen years at the company as having a huge influence on her career years at the company run by Jerry Miller—credits him as having huge influence on her career since Miller’s Margaret Jerrold, Shoe Strings and Shoe Biz lines had her creating footwear in factories around the world from Spain to Italy to France and even becoming the first company to make fashion sandals at a price in mainland China. Miller was so impressed by Arsho’s work he created the Arsho for Shoe Biz label. The title of the line was fitting for a designer who did not remain behind the scenes and preferred instead to present her designs at trunk shows, such as at Lord & Taylor and Bonwit Teller and be on a first-name basis with customers.
In 1986 until 2008, Baghsarian designed for Stuart Weitzman & Company. During this time she also designed a couture line under the Arsho label, however, her talent led to Weitzman awarding her the label Arsho for Stuart Weitzman. She became the first full-time designer he collaborated with on his collection, which was not limited to casual stretch shoes, thongs, sneakers, mules, clogs, fur and mouton boots, bridal shoes and evening footwear complete with with pave stones and jeweled architectural heels. Within the company, Baghsarian was able to fully express her creativity, whether displaying her affinity for whimsical designs or her taste for glamor.
In January 2008, Baghsarian retired from the footwear industry and was inducted into Footwear News Hall of Fame. She now divides her time between Manhattan and Southhampton with her husband of more than forty years, fashion photographer and sculptor Avedis Baghsarian. Despite her retirement, she admits she will never stop designing.

Archival history

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Content and structure area

Scope and content

Donated in March 2009, the Arsho Baghsarian Collection of Shoe Design comprises approximately 26 cubic feet (14 cubic feet for the sketches and 12 cubic feet for the sample shoes and embellishments). The collection contains 561 shoe prototypes (210 total pairs and 141 total single shoes), 9 original boxes, 4 accessories (2 pairs of Shin-Shams) and 4752 design sketches, some handbags but mostly shoes shown in profile. Many, especially during the later part of her career are sketch copies since the originals remain at the factory. The original sketches are done in pencil, ink and gouache and photocopied. Additionally, there are numerous fabric and leather swatches, samples of ornament and color charts, roughly 102 pattern pieces, 224 advertisements primarily from The New York Times and Footwear News, 47 photographs primarily from the Margaret Jerrold retrospective exhibition held at Lord and Taylor in 1982, assorted press clippings, and 43 spiral-bound shoe forecasts from the 1950’s and 1960’s from the Mademoiselle Shoe Company. This is undoubtedly an important collection due in part to Baghsarian’s artistry and sculptural sensibility. She was able to utilize and craft a wide variety of materials to produce throughout the world during a career that spanned more than forty years from 1963 through 2008. The range of materials makes the collection an important tool for conservation, while the collection of design sketches, actual shoe prototypes and marketing, sometimes in publications that have greatly transformed or no longer exist, gives students a sense of art marketing and fashion history.

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Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

Access is open to researchers by appointment at the Fashion Institute of Technology Library, Department of Special Collections and FIT Archives.

Conditions governing reproduction

The Department of Special Collections and FIT Archives does not own copyright for all material held in its physical custody. It is the researcher's obligation to abide by and satisfy copyright law (http://www.copyright.gov/title17/92chap1.html#108) when copying or using materials (including digital materials) found in or made available from the department. When possible, the department will inform a researcher about the copyright status of material, the researcher's obligations with regard to such material, and, wherever possible, the owner or owners of the copyrights. Any and all reproduction of originals is at the archivist's discretion.

Language of material

  • English

Script of material

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Finding aids

Allied materials area

Existence and location of originals

The Library of the Fashion Institute of Technology, Department of Special Collections and FIT Archives, 27th St. at 7th Ave., NY, NY, USA, 10001

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Status

Level of detail

Full

Dates of creation revision deletion

Language(s)

  • English

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Accession area