Shoes should be one of a girls’ best friends.
A good pair of footwear should be comfortable, but not chunky. It should give you that lift in your step, complement your outfit, take you from work to the supermarket to that party and most of all, fit your feet like a glove.
At least, that’s my take on shoes. I have oddly-shaped feet which are decently sized but a bit too wide in the front and too high on the arch, and that means terrible blisters on my small toes every time I try to squeeze them into those pretty-on-the-shelf-painful-on-the-feet pair of heels, or serious aches which make every extra metre I have to walk a nightmare.
I had such a love-hate relationship with shoes that once I found a pair which (almost) met all my expectations, I would immediately buy an extra three pairs in different colours and wear them all until the soles gave out before embarking on yet another arduous search for that elusive perfect pair.
So three years ago, when I received my first pair of Repettos as a gift, I can say without a hint of exaggeration that my life changed.
In the box, nestled in their pink tissue paper, that pair of size 38.5 ballet slippers looked too pretty to be true. The girliest shade of pale-pink that was almost nude, fashioned in soft hand-worked leather, I marvelled at their delicacy and their dainty string bows. They looked more in place on the feet of a graceful ballerina on stage than on my misshapen feet.
“Try it on!” my friend encouraged, “I saw them on the French girls and they looked so super chic.”
With more than a little misgiving, I slipped them on and took a walk around the room, flexing my toes. They seemed to take to my feet pretty well. I skipped, they stayed (usually the back flops off like a dead fish). I looked in the mirror, and they seemed to make my feet longer, my look daintier.
Still, I had my doubts. But about 100 km later, I was hooked. My Repettos were truly my best ‘sole’ friends, and I’ve never looked back!
Those nude-pink shoes have since been completely worn out by my shameless over-use, so I was so happy to buy my own pair in Paris in the summer of 2012 – in an almost exact same shade. If you look through my entries, you’ll see that that pair took me shopping through the streets of Madeleine, the boulevards of the Champs Elysees, and the elegant manicured gardens of the Versailles Palace in absolute comfort, matching all my dresses! My BFF A also bought a Dorothy-esque red patent pair that matched her bubbly personality to a T.
The story behind Repetto is also amazing and very touching.
The first pair of Repetto ballet slippers were made by Rose Repetto in her little workshop on the Rue de la Paix, just off the Paris Opera where the National Ballet Company was housed.
Rose’s son, an up and coming male ballerina, had been coming home from rehearsals every day with bloodied feet. Anxious to make him a a pair of slippers which would minimize his pain, Rose hand-sewed a pair of soft, supple en-pointe shoes. They were a hit, and she went on to set up her own artisan shoe-making shop as word spread about her lovely creations.
Style icon and actress Brigitte Bardot was one of many famous women who loved the shoes – they became known as her secret style weapon after Rose Repetto created a special “Cendrillon” pair for her.
These humble but beautifully made shoes have since become a staple in most Frenchwomen’s closets – refined, elegant, comfortable and simple.
On my second trip to Paris during winter, I was determined to buy another two pairs, at least, to last till the next time I am irresistibly drawn to their beautiful shop, those Repettos displayed in a circle of rainbow hues.
Look at those butterscotch yellows, camel browns, spunky vermilions, glittery golds. I was in heaven in their St Germain store! (The original Rue de la Paix is often over-crowded by swooning females and many sizes are out of stock – I would still recommend you go, as a breathless pilgrimage of sorts 🙂 )
Here are the two I picked out, after much hemming, hawwing, and female indecision while my indulgent husband made small-talk with the sales assistant, herself a ballerina who is terribly passionate about dance, shoes and fashion (talk about a match made in heaven!)
I dreamed about pairing the butterscotch pair with a quirky red swing dress, but in the end I succumbed to neutral colours, if only to create a base for my ever growing collection before I move on to louder pieces (I have a plan).
On the left is a low-heeled patent pair in a colour called ‘Gres‘, or sandstone. It’s a very neutral, milky light brown that makes my legs look longer and has a heel high enough for me to feel extra perky but low enough so that I don’t look like a tranny next to my husband, K. A shoe-wardrobe essential I can see myself wearing over and over again.
The other pair was love at first sight – ‘Souris’, or ‘Mouse’. It’s a lovely pale grey that is blue in some lights, lavender in others. I was particularly enamoured of this pair, and the SA came over, a twinkle in her eye, and told me she loved it too before telling me the story behind the colours’ name.
‘In the ballet companies, the young students wear ballet tights that exact shade of grey. When these little children run around in those grey tights, we call them ‘les petites souris‘ affectionately, or, ‘little mice’! This colour is named for them.”
How incredibly cute is that!
To end off, I’m recycling a photo of myself wearing my Natural Rose Repettos, still my favourite pair (until I’ve broken those two new ones in).
So remember, the next time you are in Paris, be sure to make a stop at Repetto, slip on that pair of ballet flats which make your heart sing, and skip your way down the narrow Parisian streets, the joy of dance in your step as you exude that je ne sais quoi that is present in every street and corner of this beautiful, beautiful city with it’s dear dear old soul.
22 Rue de la Paix 75002 Paris, France