September 15 2010
Lucia van der Post
Shoe fetishists have just got a great new playground to romp around in – Selfridges in London’s Oxford Street has opened the biggest, boldest, swankiest shoe department in the world: “bigger”, it boasts, “than Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall”, with more than 4,000 shoes on offer. And this isn’t just a department, deary me no, these are “Shoe Galleries”. The most gorgeous (ie, expensive) brands (Louboutin, Chanel, Prada, Gucci, Jimmy Choo) all have their own “apartments” which glamorously project the essence of each label. Jimmy Choo’s boutique, for instance, has hand-painted wallpaper, a gold-foil ceiling and a faux tusk table, all echoing aspects of founder and chief creative officer Tamara Mellon’s New York apartment. Dior’s has bespoke art pieces by the American artist Rob Wynne, while Fendi’s has all the grandeur of a Roman palazzo.
I hotly lusted after Christian Louboutin’s adorable little black boot (all lace and satin ribbons – yours for £1,575), but there are lots of more affordable shoes for every day. It’s a great place to compare brands and prices because not far from Jimmy Choo and Louboutin’s masterful works of art will be smaller cult brands such as AF Vandevorst, Ann Demeulemeester and Maison Martin Margiela, while a few paces away you can check out Topshop (right on trend and brilliantly priced), All Saints and more Havaianas than you’ve ever seen gathered in one place before.
Many a shoe fancier, though, will be most excited about the arrival of the first ever British boutique devoted to Repetto, the cult French flat. Founded in 1947 in the Rue de la Paix in Paris by Rose Repetto, mother of the famous dancer Roland Petit, it was originally a dancing-shoe workshop to which most of the great names in ballet (Nureyev, Béjart) came, but it wasn’t long before she was making ballet pumps for stars such as Brigitte Bardot (immortalised in Et Dieu Créa la Femme), Catherine Deneuve, Arielle Domballe and many others.
These days many a fashionable woman about town never comes back from Paris without a pair of these famous shoes in her luggage. Comme des Garçons has long had a soft spot for Repetto and from time to time sells its collaborations with the house through Dover Street Market, but this is the first time the full range is available in the UK.
The boutique (pictured), like the one in Paris, looks rather like a ballet studio, complete with practice bar. Though Repetto is best known for its simple and classic ballet pump – the famous BB (£145) – there is always a seasonal collection of lace-ups, boots, loafers, jazz shoes (les Richelieux) and sandals in fabric, leather, suede and patent leather (from £120). Meanwhile, Selfridges’ website has a corner called “Tell Us Your Shoe Story”, to which readers and customers can send their personal shoe-related stories, along with pictures of the shoe.