THE BEST OF THE BEST
Venerable English fifirm John Lobb is synonymous with impeccable shoemaking. This double monk (top) shows why.
Only seven people work for Bontoni, a third-generation family firm of shoemakers. Their workshop is in the family home in the small town of Montegranaro in Italy’s Le Marche region. The dozen or so pairs of shoes they complete in a day are made from the highest quality leather, painstakingly stitched and entirely coloured by hand. Detailing is subtle but surprising – such as the braid stitching around the vamps on the two oxfords shown here (centre and bottom).
Dress shoes with more substantial soles are very much in fashion this season, as evidenced by these four examples. Clockwise from top, Santoni, Harry Rosen Made in Italy, Ermenegildo Zegna (it looks heavy but is actually extremely lightweight) and Tod’s.
The first written reference to oxblood as a colour is in an English book, Whole Art of Dying, published in 1705. After black and brown, it is considered the most acceptable colour for a gentleman’s shoes, looking particularly debonair against a navy trouser. Though never out of style, it is enjoying a moment in the limelight this season, with many shoe companies showing what they can do with it.
Clockwise from top left, Tod’s loafer has an exceptionally lustrous sheen; the oxblood oxford from Harry Rosen Made in Italy is constructed from contrasting smooth and cross-hatched saffiano leathers. The double monk strap is also from Harry Rosen Made in Italy. Ferragamo’s loafer shows off the firm’s trademark Gancini ornament; Barker’s smooth ankle boot has an almost sculptural grace while Canali’s cap-toe derby is burnished with splendid gradations of colour.
When the cold weather hits, a pair of shearling-lined boots is a man’s best friend. To Boot New York (left) makes this example in soft deerskin with vertical zips on both sides. BOSS (top) offers a stylish combination of smooth and caviar-grain leathers and a black shearling lining. Henderson’s shearling-lined deerskin boot has a sneaker sole for maximum comfort. Deerskin is a particularly soft leather; use a neutral cream when you polish your deerskin shoes or boots.
Wearing white sneakers with a suit says one thing; wearing unabashedly luxurious leather sneakers makes a far more subtle statement. From top left, Canali details the sides of this sneaker with a cross-hatch pattern while Tom Ford’s name – in gold – is on the tip of his tongue. John Lobb’s Levah sneaker is made in the same mottled Museum calf leather used for its dress shoes. To Boot New York’s sneaker has a paler leather heel embossed with a map of New York; Loro Piana endows its navy deerskin version with a signature white sole.
Versatility is a key quality of a dress boot – elegant enough to wear with a suit but equally good-looking with a smart pair of jeans. These three were all made in Italy’s Le Marche region. Check out the exquisite burnishing on the cap-toe ankle boot from Harry Rosen Made in Italy (left) and on the Chelsea boot (top), a collaboration between Harry Rosen and Canadian shoe designer Christopher Bates. The sleek Tod’s ankle boot (right) sports the company’s signature pebbled sole.