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Italian born Alessandro began his career as an apprentice, constructing carriages and reins. During this tenure, Alessandro would befriend old master shoemakers in his Italian Village and learned what went into play when constructing shoes: skilled woodcrafting and attention to leather. Alessandro’s travels would lead him to Paris, where armed with a perfectionist attitude, the hard-working Alessandro soon received orders from other shoemakers. After some time, Alessandro opened his own workshop, where he worked tirelessly for shoe aficionados.
Torello Berluti, Alessandro’s fifth born child, inherited this love for creation. Torello, who had an affinity for wood, leather and fabric, ventured into carpentry, but it wasn’t until the roaring 20s that he would embrace the bootmaker’s craft. Inspired by the simple, clean lines of the Art Deco movement, Torello garnered much success and a waiting list of clients in line to buy their own Berlutis. With a growing clientele, the shoemaker would need a larger space, and he acquired a space at 26 rue Marbeuf, where Jean Cocteau, Marcel Achard and Jules Roy all shopped.
In 1959, Berluti’s appeal would increase internationally and demographically. Talbinio Berluti, Torello’s son, focused on innovation and brought in ready to wear collections. Before that year, Berluti shoes were all bespoke: fully customizable, ranging from the wooden last to choice of skin and patinas and handmade from scratch. The ready to wear collections ushered a younger clientele.
More positive changes would come when Talbinio was joined by his cousin Olga Berluti, who introduced new color palettes and transformed the shop at rue Marbeuf into a drawing room. The venue soon became a location for great conversation and wonderful company. Olga’s youthful demeanor made rue Marbeuf an engaging place, frequented by the likes of Yves Saint Laurent and Karl Lagerfeld. It was through Olga that the iconic Andy shoe, named after Warhol, was created. In 1962, Olga’s perception of the artist led to a unique pair of modern, unconventional loafers that the artist heartfelt embraced.
Today, the options for bespoke shoes are endless, including tattooing and scarification. After months of work and fittings, bespoke shoes and boots are delivered to clients in a Venezia Scritto leather box customized to match the patina colors and engraved with the owner’s name. While everyone can admire the art behind a pair of bespoke shoes or boots, there are clients that prefer immediate gratification and prefer the ready-to-wear counterparts. In 1960, Dean Martin introduced Frank Sinatra to Berluti. Upon hearing how long it would take to possess a pair of bespoke Berlutis, Sinatra opted for ready-to-wear loafers.
On July 1st, 2011, the talented Italian designer Alessandro Sartori became part of the Berluti family as Artistic Director. He was tasked with creating an impeccable wardrobe for the Berluti man. Up until this time, the company had solely focused on footwear and leather goods. In January 2012, he unveiled the first collection for the brand.
His creativity and technical precision led to clothing garments that strongly follow the Berluti spirit. It would be easy to say that Alessandro, himself, is a prime example of the Berluti man. When asked what piece of clothing he’d be, Sartori responded: “A navy three piece suit, of course- classic, simple and left-field”.
Berluti always offers a unique flair for the man that wants to stand out. Berluti’s vision of luxury isn’t ostentatious, instead it prides itself on being classic while evoking a stylish sense of fun. ■