The Shoe Snob Blog

July 4, 2011

Written by , Posted in News

Corthay ‘Wilfred’

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From self-taught shoe design to dabbling in pattern making, I have truly learned to love and appreciate the details and complexities of a shoe’s style/pattern/design and how the most minute of details, can truly make one shoe stand out from another. Probably the shoe/style that I appreciate the most, out of every shoe that I have ever seen, is the Wilfred by Corthay. You may look at it and think that it’s not that special and that many shoes have been designed just like it, but that is precisely what you should think, ‘shoes that are kind of like it’ but not exactly like it. The galosh look (having a separate piece leather starting at the facing and extending to the heel) is something that has been done by virtually every bespoke shoemaker, and has trickled down into their RTW line, to become a popular style that you see worn by many, think the Kent by G&G. But never before had someone altered the line, that goes from the bottom of the laces to the heel, to give it this detailed look of the outline of a bouncing ball, until Corthay.

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As you can see by all of the pictures, a style, so simple in it’s concept — a two piece — can literally create an unthinkable amount of pairings simply by altering the leather color and the material used, let alone all of the small things like lace & stitch coloring, as well as burnishing. What is impressive, is the fact that Pierre Corthay has actually created more color options in one style, than I have ever seen before in a dress shoe. The ‘Wilfred’ is like the Sperry Top-Sider of dress shoes, done season after season, in an array of new colors and material arrangements. And why not? When you have created such a signature shoe with a timeless style, such as this, it only makes sense to release it year after year, to give your dedicated shoe fans, not only a new aesthetic look but also a familiar feel. That’s smart too, because many men don’t like to shy away from familiarity, especially when they are handing over a +$1000 per pair. They want to know that the shoe, in a break in or two, is going to fit like a glove, and not give some other model a chance at hurting their feet. But that is just some men…..

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While I could probably write a 10-page essay on the Wilfred and it’s greatness, which is impressive considering that I could never write longer than a page, in high school, without going mind blank, I will keep it short to not bore you. Probably the simplest yet most intriguing part of the Wilfred, is actually the stitching, that almost every oxford in the world has, which follows the line of the lacing, on the facing. You can see it best on the picture directly above. In most shoes, you will find that this will be slightly sloped, kind of giving some detail to the shoe, but never have I seen it with the effect of coming to a bottom point and then creating another semi-circle, kind of like a really curvy ‘M.’ But not only is it stitched quite uniquely, it also continues to follow the top stitch line, going all the way back to the heel. This again, is something that I have never seen, maybe because I was simply not paying attention, or maybe because Corthay, a true artist, understands that the minor details are what create masterpieces and was the first to do this….. But like with all masterpieces, they come at a cost, a very high one…

On another note, but also involving Corthay, is an event that he is hosting from July 10th, for 4 days, that some of you might be interested in.

“Imagined by the prestigious shoemaker Pierre Corthay to honour the ‘Compagnons du Devoir’ and their unique skills, the Excellence Run aims at discovering the heritage of exceptional craftsmanship and at promoting the Masters of their art.” — Parisian Gentleman

To read the full article GO HERE

Pictures from many sources but mainly Leffot and L’Atelier Du Chausseur

All the best,

-Justin, “The Shoe Snob”

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  • Thanks for the enlightening post, another reason why Mr. Corthay is widely regarded as the greatest cordwainer in France! I guess unreal patination, exquisite handiwork, and respect to the classics certainly helps!

  • Benjy – Indeed!! He is quite a master shoe artisan, not many like him.

    -Justin, “The Shoe Snob”