Sadly, I don't think I will be purchasing a pair of Corthay shoes any time soon. It was not until I ventured into Corthay at 1 Rue Volney, Paris 2eme, that I realised just how much work goes into getting a pair of Corthay shoes. From the outset, my sales assistant, Karim, made it very clear that there was no quick fix to getting any of their unique designs and patinas made during my stay in Paris.
For us Antipodeans, a European vacation is often a very quick adventure to the other side of the world to scramble to get everything done within a few weeks. For Australians and New Zealanders, the Gap Year might be the only time you are permitted to spend quality time in another part of the world; but that is usually when you are young and have no money and are least likely to indulge in a pair of these fine shoes. When you have money, the likelihood is that you have to work for it, which means you have much shorter holidays. With that in mind I was particularly pressed for time and I believe I was sweating when I entered the store; so my assumption is that perhaps I was not their ideal customer. The Corthay customer seemingly builds a relationship with the store and staff, perhaps even with Pierre Corthay himself, whom I saw through the window in the courtyard but failed to be introduced to.
One of the treasures I took away from the store was the methodology behind their patent patina treatment. From my understanding, they take a patent leather, then they begin to paint the tones on top of the existing patent and then finish the shoe again. This treatment, exemplified by the fireball red and orange shoes below, takes some time to orchestrate.
In the end I have an order sheet sitting there which hopefully one day I will be able to fill. The trouble is that in order to get a last made, to have a second fitting, to instruct them on your own design, to watch over the final patina - well, it might take you months if not a year - as well as multiple trips back to the store. For the time being my small boutique brand of bow ties, shirts and accessories is unable to support this kind of a jet set lifestyle. My advice to anyone looking to purchase Corthay shoes is as follows. 1. Build a relationship with them. 2. Find a store you might be able to get to easily. 3. Don't sweat or be in a rush when you get into the store, all good things take time and patience.
I look forward to one day posting a photo of myself in a pair of Corthays - until that day, all I have is these photographs!
|To the right, a blank canvas - a pair of arca's prior to being finished.|
|Centre - a particularly striking Corthay patent leather shoe|
|Centre and right, the glory of a fine patina which is what has made Corthay so highly sought after|
|Many of the shoes are finished in store at workstations just like this one.|