Artisans & Ateliers

Corthay

Artisans & Ateliers

Corthay

Cinematography by Paul Akinrinlola

By the age of 15, having become fascinated by animal hide thanks to an artist aunt using it in a sculpture, Pierre Corthay was making small leather goods from a makeshift studio in his childhood bedroom. Even by this tender age, his mother agreed, there really was only one career route for her precociously gifted, budding craftsman of a son.

A seven-year stint with the Les Compagnons du Devoir (a French craft collective dating back to the Middle Ages) and periods with John Lobb and Berluti followed, equipping this prodigious young artisan to open his own atelier, in 1990, on the Place Vendôme: “Alone, with just my hands and my tools and nothing more,” as he tells ESSENCE Lifestyle.

A quarter of a century on from that fateful decision, this footwear maestro’s eponymous brand offers bespoke, made-to-order and ready-to-wear footwear, famous for its clean, narrow shapes, signature, rapier-sharp elongated toe and chromatic bravado. Kevin Spacey, Clive Owen and Rafael Nadal are among the high profile men to regularly visit its stores, which are peppered all over Europe, America, Asia and the Middle East. He is also the only boot-maker ever to have received the ‘Maitre d’Art’ – a craft distinction granted by the French Culture Ministry.

Here, the ever-affable Corthay talks about his fascinating creative journey, from those bedroom-bound beginnings to the present day, via a life-changing visit by a Herald Tribune fashion editor and an extraordinary order from the Sultan of Brunei.

His story is one of tireless dedication, and dogged commitment to a future in which innovation remains a fluid concept.

Behind the scenes

#1

Corthay Atelier

An apprentice hard at work.

#2

Corthay Atelier

A selection of bespoke tools.

#3

Corthay Atelier

A beautiful pair of bespoke Corthay shoes with a distinctive toe finish.

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