Tuesday, March 29, 2011


680 Madison Avenue, NYC

A graciously hosted preview of JOHN LOBB SPIRITS OF CAPITALS BESPOKE COLLECTION at the elegant Madison Avenue Hermes men's store---had us wanting a bit more information---

So we took some time, going south a block for a better look at the exquisite handwork---and editorially distinct custom footwear line...on display at the John Lobb Boutique.

Personalized handmade shoes- representing eleven global capitals-of commerce, actually--- as cities with John Lobb establishments served as inspiration--- yielding collaboratively designed samples, two per locale,  that are all just stunningly handsome, made of the finest materials, and---it’s obvious--- requiring labor intensive, skilled cobblers for the ultimate fit and finish.

Truthfully, the only example we guessed correctly were the “routed in reality” Dubai anointed, double buckle (instep adjustable) sandals, inspired by the famous William monk shoe---but here made luxurious with a supple insole sheathed in lambskin.

Tokyo’s tobacco brown suede low boot, with an exclusive pink gold plated buckle--- and a classic six-hole wingtip oxford with natural calfskin lining and decorative brogue decorations--- ooze understated elegance.

London calling, as it is, evoke favoritism amongst employees…the two low derby boots with hooks and eyelets in rich Barenia calfskin and, characteristic of England (in our minds), a rugged water tough,  cotton canvas ---that we were told, is optional to satisfy any client’s preference-say, for an all leather upper…

Hardware of solid brass via an ankle buckle strap ----and the finest construction---in the gold Barenia calfskin/khaki canvas boot-sewn directly to the sole with a genuine, welt-less Norwegian stitch---using a proprietary “wax linen thread”---for a weather-proof kicker.


The Moscow Balmoral style boot and the two-tone oxford shoes in the same pattern…are inspired by a custom ordered model from the John Lobb archives---for a famous Russian opera singer. 

The Cyrillic letters on the heels of the ankle boots, were a means to identify the footwear of Moscow's  opera going gentlemen, who would remove boots for polishing (by butlers, of course)---and switch into evening shoes for the performance –and assuming, festivities post.

A bit more rarified than fashionistas switching out of their flip-flps into sky high heels for editorial meets and runway shows.

The Hong Kong two arched oxfords with luxe croc---are made with two pieces of leather sewn at the front---emblematic of the exclusive and incredible high quality of the select materials sourced for this luxury label---

We thought, these would be the ultimate glam golf shoes---and of course, John Lobb already makes soft cleat items---but the Hong Kong samples can also be delivered game ready, if so desired.

The elongated profile of the Beijing arched oxfords…with eye catching lateral elastic strap – sheathed in leather---assure the ultimate fit. A clever design element---IMHO.

Added plus-a rubber insert in the leather sole for added traction in rainy weather---a global condition that makes this shoe appropriate worldwide.

Tapei was described to us a a “simple shoe” ---in the sense that the hand stitched platform moccasins of rich calfskin give them a sporty chic…of course here bumped up with genuine bamboo croc or tan buffalo--- upper clasps/ tassels.

Geneva inspired a low and ankle boot ---both in classic Balmoral styles…

Lined in fur for the low sample, also with the thick snow proof sole sewn directly with a welt-less Norwegian stitch…

While the shiny, pearl finish ankle boot features a sleek round Colbert arch that makes the kicker as wonderful to wear with denim as a suit.

Figures, the fast slip-on lace-less classic double vamp oxfords, made from full grained box calf---belong to those living life in a perpetual New York minute.

Our favorite is the posh Paris Balmoral style oxfords ---in black box calf and specially canvas lined---

We loved how the part fabric uppers reflect the lining of tuxedo vests…a very sophisticated design element. And, of course, we assume, have it your way, matchy matchy possibilities with a man’s evening wardrobe, are available too.

Seoul's toe capped oxfords have thin leather laces that highlight the punching on the uppers. Subtle, hand made-exacting...

As with all John Lobb bespoke orders, custom made original wooden lasts for each client, based on foot measurements taken by the Master Lastmaker (service available at John Lobb boutiques)-- are then-on file, so to speak, at the elegant Parisian establishment---on 32 rue de Magador--- where John Lobb footwear is crafted.


 Words/John Lobb Boutique Images of Spirits of Capitals Bespoke Collection-Judith Ecochard