In my spare time recently, of which I have not had that much, I decided to shine my shoes. I was curious as to how Berluti managed to get their shoes to have this mirror, almost porcelain glaze to their shoes. I asked Matthew Cookson in Paris and he said "it's called a spit and polish and you can do it at home but it takes some practice. I prefer the French name 'Glaçage' ".... So do I Matthew, it sounds a lot more dignified.
So I embarked on a You Tube, Google and Wiki journey into the world of 'Glaçage' and it took me to Russia, France, the United States and Italy and finally I got my head around it.
The basic principles are:
- Strip back your shoes or brush and clean them with a cloth so you have removed all dirt, grit that could scratch the leather later.
- Rub the shoes over again with a lint free cotton cloth or something that is extremely soft to touch. Remember, the lint can come off onto the leather and ruin the end look, so rub away any particles which come off your cloth.
- Brush them again if needs be. Rub them again with the cloth too. This depends on how dirty they are. Mine were not that dirty.
- You can use a renovating polish if that suits, or else you can use what I used, which was a Collonil Diamant cream polish (See jar between the two brushes). Start to rub on the cream in small circles using the a very soft cloth which has no lint. Put the cloth around your finger in the manner which is shown in the first video below. Keep rubbing. Don't stop because you get bored. If you are not sweating, you are probably not doing it properly. Enjoy the process, it can be therapeutic at times. You can also use a tiny bit of water to keep polishing it. You don't need a lot of water. Just a tiny bit and this is also the case for the normal polish and not the creams. The normal polish is harder to get into the leather, so you can use the water to soften it and also the action of your hand going back and forth creates friction which heats up the process.
- Ok, so now that I have done this process I was ready for the next one. Now, again, you can do this one of two ways. On the Diamant cream all you need to do is buff it with an ultra fine cloth and you're done. However, if you are using regular polish, you can use the brush to go over the shoes to even out the polish that you have just done. Buff it off. Then you can repeat the process by applying more polish and then rubbing it off in the same small circular motion using one finger. Slowly, over time, you will get that layered glazed look or 'Glaçage'.
- Use the videos below. Each one has a different technique but all are tending towards the same result. Somewhere between these is the perfect technique, but you will need to do some of your own homework depending on the shoes you want to renovate. If you have any additional thoughts, please feel free to leave a comment below.
PS: Make sure you watch the very last video with the young cadet doing his shoe shine, there is something so earnest about his manner that is very endearing.