With the launch of their latest ready-to-wear Cannes collection, Maison Corthay’s communications director, Francois Pourcher, tells us more about this exclusive handmade shoe concept that is a well kept secret among many across the globe – and now available in South Africa.

Tell us about Maison Corthay? Maison Corthay was founded by Pierre Corthay in 1990. A gifted shoe designer and respected craftsman, Pierre is the only men’s shoe-maker to have been awarded the title ‘Maitre d’Art’ distinction by the French Ministry of Culture. Corthay provides the finest men’s shoes, hand crafted in France, using carefully sourced leathers that are supplied by the top traditional French and European tanneries. The Corthay shoe is distinguished by its dramatic silhouette and sleek lines and unique colours.

What makes Maison Corthay distinct? Corthay shoes, whether they are bespoke or ready-to-wear, are at the intersection between craft and elegance. Corthay shoes are a successful fusion between traditional shoe-making know-how and more creative, avant-garde design. Experimentation is at the heart of the Maison with a diverse range of materials, and constant experimentation with colour. Each patina is unique because of the brush strokes made by our craftsmen.

Who is the Corthay man? The Corthay man is somebody who loves quality, style and elegance. Corthay shoes assume a real French identity, a “French chic" character and personality in their style, lines and colours.

Tell us about the new ready-to-wear collection. What makes it different from previous collections? The Cannes collection is unique in that it is a true hybrid. Its Blake stitching allows for infinite suppleness and comfort and the strap is decorated with the emblematic Corthay “C”. The Cannes can be worn to work, to travel, at the beach or a party.

How long does it take to make a bespoke pair of Corthay shoes? It takes more than 50 hours, including 250 steps, to create a pair of handmade Corthay shoes. It’s a process that requires a large amount of patience and attention to detail.

Take us through the bespoke creation process. Everything starts with a discussion; listening, understanding the customer, because the shoe should not only fit the foot but also be a reflection of its owner. The most important thing is choosing the leather. We then take measurements and a wooden last is designed. We say, “the last is the soul” – a shoe is born and takes its personality from its last. All Corthay lasts and shoes are made in our Parisian workshop and are all completely hand carved from Charme wood. After two months, there is fitting with a trial pair of shoes, in order to check if the last has been made well and then the final pair of shoes is made. The last step is your chosen patina. Each patina is unique because of the brush strokes made by our craftsmen. Glacage gives the final touch, revealing a glossy shine. 

How have South African men responded to the idea of bespoke shoes? They love it, because they are creative and open minded. They are continually searching for quality and style, and personalisation, which is what Corthay’s bespoke service offers.

What is Corthay’s most popular shoe style? Definitely the Arca shoes. The design of this two eyelets Derby is quite emblematic, with its front resembling the front of a 60’s sports car, or an eagle’s claw. The elegance of the shoe is further enhanced by the inverted lacing – another special touch.

For a truly unique pair of shoes and luxury bespoke experience, head to the Corthay store at Nelson Mandela Square, Sandton. Make sure you chat to the master colourist, Sabelo – he’ll transform your shoes right in front of your eyes.

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