Marie Antoinette’s shoes or Artioli, shoes have always been important for fashion as well as for private use. And no matter whether you are a ‘boots are made for walking’ (Johnny Cash) kind or you approach the subject like French footwear designer, Christian Louboutin: “a shoe has so much more to offer than just to walk,” you have to admit that today, the fashion world is going through a Renaissance of footwear.
The recent trend shifted from ‘just another part of a someone’s outfit’ to a noteworthy fashion statement. There’s no accounting for taste—naturally—but all too often what is left out of the equation are inspiration, expression and originality, not only of the wearer, but also of the footwear itself.
It might be a sign of this obsession with shoes that heightened the interest for Marie Antoinette’s slippers at an auction on October 17 at Drouot Auction House in Paris. Estimated at €8,000-10,000 and once owned and worn by the Queen of France, the pair of shoes is decorated with bows and ribbons of green and pink print while the wooden heels and insides are delicately lined with white leather skin.
Marie Antoinette, known for her decadence as well as for being a fashion trend-setter, allegedly had enough shoes and dresses to fill three rooms. Authenticity was guaranteed by the auction house, stating that the shoes were offered by the sovereign to Alexandre-Bernard Ju-Des-Rety, manservant at the Palace of Versailles in 1775, and then handed down to his direct descendants. The substantial winning bid of €62,460 was made by an anonymous bidder over the phone.
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A step above
Although the industry has since gone through a fashion revolution, today’s modern masterpieces are still showing flair and character, but above all, tradition and quality.
Artioli is a luxury brand that creates footwear with traditional methods, perfected by technological evolution, but keeping intact the handcraft so distinct and characteristic of this Italian family business. The comfort of the shoe is derived from a soft, generous front part, a reinforced tip that gives shape and body, and a moderate stiffness at the arch and heel to absorb shock and body weight. All these are a result of workmanship and highest quality materials, giving the shoe a comfortable and custom fitting; the result is to feel the sensation of lightness in every step.
The process by which a shoe is crafted under the guide of an Artioli master takes over 200 intricate operations. The high quality of leather allows the foot to breathe and the special lining and sole materials, treated only with stitching, keep the foot fresh and dry. According to Artioli, the essence of a shoe and any garment is its shape. The tanning and selection of the leather is another important operation. Artioli uses only the finest quality, full thickness hides, treated with the proven age-old method of slow tanning with pure aniline. After several more steps involving treatments, pressing, drying and waxing, a modern masterpiece is born.
Speaking of iconic luxury lifestyle brands using exceptional Italian craftsmanship, the name resounding loudly in the world of footwear is Jimmy Choo. With an empowered sense of glamour and a confident sense of style, Jimmy Choo became a pioneer in the art of celebrity dressing, bringing handmade shoes to Hollywood, and attracting celebrities, musicians and even royalty to an image of the strong woman in towering heels and luxurious handbags. From 1986, Princess Diana was a regular customer when Choo was still ‘cobbling two pairs a day in his studio in London’s East End’.
“A person should never have to fit a pair of shoes, the shoe should be able to fit the person,” Choo said famously, and having the feet of a princess at your disposal, no wonder Jimmy Choo is now a household name. And although Choo departed the company in 2001, it is still known as one of the world’s most prestigious brands for bespoke footwear.
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