Gary Walther, ForbesLife Magazine Published November 24, 2009
Not far from Place Vendome, Pierre Corthay designs contemporary bespoke shoes in a workshop from another century. Pierre Corthay describes his shoes, handmade in a mousehole workshop near Place VendÃ´me, as a stylistic blend–“in between very British and very Italian.” Which means, as I translated it, the love child of a Rolls and a Ferrari.
Pierre Corthay is designer-in-chief at his namesake atelier, not far from Place Vendome.
I’m not that far off, according to Steven Taffel, the pro- prietor of Leffot, a gorgeous little humidor of fine men’s shoes in Manhattan’s West Village and the sole outlet for Corthay in America. The essence of the Corthay aesthetic, he tells me, is sturdy English construction with a slimmed-down Italian profile.
That Corthay manages to have it both ways may be the result of his post- apprenticeship resume: John Lobb (1984–86) and then Berluti, where he was chef d’atelier until 1990, when he started his own shop on rue Volney. All the bespoke shoes are created here, while the made-to-order side of the business is handled at a factory outside Paris controlled by Corthay. Bespoke shoes take 50 hours to fabricate, but for the first pair five months to deliver because of the fitting (two sessions are required) and last-making processes. (Subsequent pairs take three months.) Made-to-order takes about six weeks and doesn’t mean off-the-rack. The customer chooses one of two lasts (chiseled toe or tapered rounded one, which is slightly wider), and then customizes the upper. Bespoke starts at $4,400; made-to-order at Leffot goes for $1,150–$1,500 in standard skins and colors.
Satan Wholecut Veau Caramel BrÃ»lé
Leffot customer John Valvo, M.D., director of robotics at Rochester General hospital in New York, likes the Italian side of Corthay. “It’s important to me to look as contemporary as I can,” he says. He has bought some of Corthay’s brightly colored offerings such as a pair in green–“One has to be confident,” he asserts–to match a particular pinstripe. He also pairs Corthay with certain suitmakers. “If I’m wearing a two-button peak-lapel Brioni, I go with Corthay.”
Whereas Miami attorney Andrew Ellenberg tows the other side of the Corthay line, models that look like “England via Italy.” That suits his sensibility: “modern without being outlandish or “˜look at me.’ “
Pierre Corthay, 1 rue Volney, Paris; 33-142-61-08-89 or firstname.lastname@example.org, www.corthay.fr
Leffot, 10 Christopher St., New York; 212-989-4577 or email@example.com, www.leffot.com