Elvis really was on to something. The blue suede shoe at its most beguiling is an extraordinarily versatile, yet striking wardrobe staple and is particularly useful in fine weather. It sits seamlessly with everything from a lightweight navy mohair suit, to a linen checked sports coat and cream trousers, or works equally well sans socks with tailored shorts and a silk printed shirt.
Few make them better than Corthay, a contemporary French bottier with attitude (and an exceptionally rich history, the house can trace its roots right back to the foundation of a medieval shoemaking guild in Paris) with which regular readers will doubtless be well acquainted. The current owner Pierre Corthay, is an acclaimed footwear design genius, and insists upon the creation of shoes that are both beautifully made from superior materials and which offer an uncompromisingly rakish, angular silhouette. His approach is very much that of an artist; his shoes must by default express something of his philosophy on fine footwear and his own sense of self.
It is fitting then that the spectrum of blues emblazoned upon these shoes, our unique Corthay for The Rake Patinaed Suede Brighton Loafers, represents a homage to the most vivid cobalt hues employed by France’s foremost modernist painter Marc Chagall, most notably in his Lovers In Blue Sky. The subtle blue patination of the suede is a particularly challenging process to get right, whereby each shoe is delicately hand painted using light layer upon layer of ‘dry-brushing’ as the thinnest veneer of paint is dashed across the surface of the shoe. It’s a painstaking process, entirely reliant on the steady hands and deft touch of Corthay’s master shoemakers - with no margin for error.
Obviously, from an aesthetic and craft-focused perspective, these shoes are exceptional. But what really sets them apart, I'm pleased to report, is the way that they wear in warm weather. I’ve been lucky enough to live with a pair of these loafers for the past week or so, and I can confirm that they are supremely comfortable in the heat. International readers might not be aware that over the past few days, London has forgotten itself and decided to take-on Marrakech as the most super-heated city in the Northern hemisphere, so mankle-worthy footwear has been a necessity.
To cut a long story short, these loafers have performed impeccably; Corthay’s suedes are always butter-soft and refreshingly malleable, the shoes’ rubber Goodyear welted soles are practical, lightweight and shock-absorbant, and the loafer's slim profile and sculpted waist ensures that it’s a supportive, easy-wearing design. They have been exceptionally comfortable, refreshingly so, and I have no hesitation in congratulating Corthay for creating a loafer which truly has beaten the summer sun.
This tasseled ‘Brighton’ model is a Parisian homage to the mods of 1960s; arguably the first upwardly mobile, fast-moving cultural movement in European history. Fortuantely, we can now confirm that these shoes channel the dynamic spirit of those scooter-crazed speed-freaks in no small measure, and are as exhilarating to wear and to live with, as they are to look at.