JUST DANDY: Dandies of all ages gathered at Paris concept store Colette on Monday night to claim a copy of “At Their Feet,” the arty tome depicting shoes Berluti handcrafted for 26 celebrity customers over the years, including Yves Saint Laurent, Alain Delon, Zinedine Zidane and Bryan Ferry.
“I like a lot of them. Larry Clark has a great pair of crocodile boots. But my favorite style is not in the book,” said author Glenn O’Brien, citing a pair of derbies belonging to Robert de Niro. “They had rubber soles and they looked like something he would wear in a cop movie — if he was a very rich cop.”
Antoine Arnault, the brand’s chief executive officer, reminisced about his first Berlutis. “For my 18th birthday my father got me a pair — brown Chelsea boots. They are in my closet still, now 20 years old,” he said, referring to Bernard Arnault of LVMH, which owns Berluti.
The chief executive officer noted that back then it hadn’t even crossed his mind to wear them with anything else but a pair of jeans. But times have changed.
“It’s a very interesting moment right now,” observed Berluti creative director Alessandro Sartori, sporting a pair of the house’s brown Léonard boots with a custom-made, three-piece suit in midnight blue. “Customers today have more knowledge, and they look for more interesting pieces. They’re not just buying — they know what they want, and you need to motivate them. It’s challenging, but when you really take care of them, you can bring the brand to a different level.”
Sartori said it’s not a battle between the dress shoe in one corner and the sneaker in the other. “It’s the extremes on both ends that are working at the moment,” he explained. “Being a couture brand, we have never been selling more sneakers, jeans and leather jackets, but at the same time we never sold as many bespoke shoes and bespoke suits either.”
Bespoke trainers are just a matter of time now, they agreed.
“No one has asked us to do made-to-measure sneakers — yet,” said Arnault. “But we would if we were asked, of course.”
O’Brien for one seemed interested. “I wear sneakers because I walk a lot,” he said, pointing to his nylon Bikkembergs. “New Yorkers stop me in the streets. They say: ‘I like your shoes, man.’ Nobody stopped me in Paris yet — but maybe they have to be Berlutis.”