After its men’s show in Paris over the weekend, Berluti literally knocked guests’ shoes off. VIPs repaired to a lavish dinner and shoe-polishing party, taking off their footwear along with their coats. “I feel a bit lost without my shoes,” Bryan Ferry confessed, as he had no fancy sock habit to display: “I like yellow in the day and dark blue at night.”
Three long tables were laden with flowers, crystal candelabra and mysterious wooden containers. “Don’t touch your shoe boxes, please!” zany French TV presenter Mademoiselle Agnès bellowed over a microphone. Too late: Maurizio Cattelan was already opening canisters, sniffing the contents and converting a shoelace into a bracelet.
After guests gobbled up a three-course dinner by chef Thierry Marx, waiters arrived with everyone’s shoes on silver trays, along with stacks of brushes and creams. Agnès barked out more instructions in French and English, making the most of her sultry voice and naughty streak. “Take a brush and make it penetrate the wax,” she purred. “Concentrate on the toes.”
Oblivious to the instructions, Virginie Mouzat brushed her hair with one of the polishing instruments, while Bergdorf Goodman honcho Joshua Schulman threw up his white-gloved hands and proposed a simpler method: “Step one: Leave shoes outside your hotel room.”
Berluti reprised these Swann Club polishing rituals, the brainchild of founder Olga Berluti, as the brand, now helmed by Antoine Arnault, marks its 120th anniversary.
The final flourish for a Berluti-style shoe shine is the most spectacular — employing a touch of Champagne to achieve a high sheen. On this night, a 2004 Dom Pérignon was served, which gave Agnès other ideas. “Put the Champagne in your shoes and drink,” she said, hoisting an oxford and toasting her guests.