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FOOT NOTES: The French footwear industry’s top governing body, the Fédération Française de la Chaussure, opened an exhibition on Thursday called “La Chaussure, une passion française” (or “The Shoe, a French passion” in English), tracing 150 years of shoe manufacturing.

The exhibit, which runs until Nov. 4 at Atelier Richelieu, a townhouse near the Palais Royal, showcases shoes of Roger Vivier, Raymond Massaro and André Perugia, who in 1950 created a sandal that resembles a sculpture by Pablo Picasso. The oldest shoe in the show is by François Pinet. It has kitten heels, dating back from the 19th century.

“Shoes have become more and more important since World War II, as women’s skirts got shorter. Shoe designers have become the equal to fashion designers,” the curator Muriel Rousseau explained.

Massaro, whose business is controlled by Chanel subsidiary Paraffection, said there were around 600 bootmakers in the Fifties and there are only 20 left.

In addition, a space is dedicated to showcase the collections of emerging designers like Amélie Pichard and Alix de la Forest. They are among the 17 designers selected this year by ADC Au-Delà du Cuir (or “beyond leather” in English), an initiative of the leather sector to help entrepreneurs grow their businesses.

Jean-Pierre Renaudin, the president of the Fédération Française de la Chaussure told WWD the footwear industry in France last year racked up sales of around 1 billion euros, or 1.29 billion dollars at current exchange rates, with the upscale end of the market faring the best.

He added that sales were down 3 percent in the first half of 2012, but he expects the second half to be better, up around 1 percent. “We got a bit stuck in the mud but we have a glorious history and bright future,” he said.

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