Inaugural Symposium: The Power of the Liberal Arts — How the Liberal Arts Keep Luxury Shoe Designer Ruthie Davis ’84 a Step Ahead

Ruthie Davis '84

Ruthie Davis ’84

The Power of the Liberal Arts,” the symposium that is prelude to the inauguration of Clayton S. Rose as Bowdoin’s 15th president, comprises leaders from the worlds of business, design, government, higher education and public health. The symposium will be held in Pickard Theater, Memorial Hall, 2 p.m.­–5 p.m., Friday, October 16, 2015. In advance of the discussion, we continue a series of participant profiles.

Having outfitted the likes of Beyoncé, Lady Gaga and Alicia Keys, Ruthie Davis ’84 has been called “shoe designer to the stars.”

While her high-rise designs are carried by top luxury retailers Neiman Marcus, Harvey Nichols and Bloomingdale’s, entrepreneur Davis herself is in good company, having been included in Goldman Sachs’ list of “100 Most Intriguing Entrepreneurs” in 2013.

Davis’ path toward glamorous footwear took her from her degree in English and visual arts at Bowdoin, and through stints at Reebok, UGG and Tommy Hilfiger, before stepping out in 2006 into a world that called for her to wear many hats.

“People think I spend all of my time designing shoes.” said Davis.

“The reality is that I spend most of my day analyzing problems, coming up with solutions and communicating those solutions to others.

“My liberal arts education at Bowdoin taught me the skills I use daily as I adapt and thrive in an ever-changing global fashion marketplace. And, who would ever have thought I use skills I learned in my watercolor painting classes to design my shoes?”

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