Over the years, our indulgence for luxury footwear had turned into novelty as we slowly drifted our preferences towards bespoke treatments and ideas. Which brings us to Berluti, the 120-year-old French label best known for making exquisitely crafted leather shoes and men’s ready-to-wear collections (only as recently as 2012). The label that works with leather of the purest quality, craftsmanship of the highest order, brand value comprising of over 100 years of Parisian heritage and innovative design is also known widely for its bespoke leather-tattooing. Founded in 1865 by Alessandro Berluti, who traditionally crafted boots in Paris at age 19, the brand expertly balances Italian traditions and heritage with timeless Parisian influences. He was known to have created the Alessandro shoe, a piece designed with single piece of leather with no visible stitching.
Till date, the Alessandro stands as an icon of the House of Berluti – the standard to which no other label could live upto. “It has been more than 120 years since Alessandro Berluti put his name on the House’s first pair of shoes. From the very beginning, Berluti has stood apart through its unique combination of technical skill and creative flair, firmly grounded in bespoke know-how. And although some things have changed with the times, that artisan spirit remains the same. For every new chapter in the history of Berluti, we continue to challenge the boundaries of craftsmanship and to transform the rules of style,” says Gaganmeet Singh, Managing Director of Brompton Private Limited. Berluti opened its maiden Indian boutique in India in partnership with Brompton Group in February 2018 at DLF Emporio.
The craft of Venezia leather on the other hand, was brought forth by Olga Berluti, the granddaughter of Alessandro Berluti is a result of hard work and craftsmanship that worked with colouring and bleaching leather while applying solvents, essential oils, pigments and dyes to create exquisite shoes whose craftsmanship was never equalled in terms of quality and skill. It’s interesting to note that Olga Berluti developed Venezia leather using an exclusive natural and mineral tanning process – an art unparalleled in the world. And with that, her repertoire of clients included prestigious names such as François Truffaut, Pablo Picasso, Yves Saint Laurent and Andy Warhol. And perhaps the most extraordinary moment at Berluti is how Olga Berluti developed shoe patina into art, thus, making Berluti a household name in the men’s luxury shoe category. The Indian connection with Berluti is one of respect for craftsmanship. “We have opened the first Berluti store almost a year ago and the response has been very positive since many Indian customers were already Berluti customers in other countries and knew already knew what the house stands for,” explains Singh.
The label once again, in 2003 under Olga Berluti’s leadership, perfected a unique technique for tattooing leather with assorted pigments inked directly on Venezia leather. This was done under the expert guidance of Brooklyn-based tattoo artist. Scott Campbell who worked with stars like Marc Jacobs, Josh Hartnett, Orlando Bloom, Helena Christensen. He developed a series of exclusive tattoos for Berluti, bringing in more bespoke elements and contemporary art to footwear. “After years of research, Olga Berluti’s tattooing technique is a handcrafted process on the emblematic Berluti leather that only a handful of artisans have mastered. Now you can have all your Venezia leather belongings tattooed, from shoes and handbags to belts and other small leather goods,” says Singh.
But what kind of tattooing are we talking about here? “Berluti features a selection of tattoos, based on four themes: a classic bestiary of Insects & Animals, the signs of the Zodiac and the Chinese horoscope, vintage designs with Eagles, and the subtle art of Calligraphy. But that’s not all. Clients can opt to have their own designs tattooed. They can also choose the placement of the artwork and the patina over top — light to bring out the design, dark for greater discretion. With this exclusive service, Berluti brings an even more bespoke look to an already-unique shoe,” adds Singh. And now, over the years, Berluti tattoos are an interesting signature of the brand’s style mandate.
The leathers the brand works with are patinas that are as exclusive as they come. Are there other leathers the brand advocates? “The key to the unique patinas of Berluti is Venezia leather. This exclusive material owes its existence to the genius of Olga who first developed it using natural and mineral tanning. This process results in supple leather that makes it possible to bring forth colours of unusual depth. Apart from Venezia leather, bespoke and special order options of ostrich, alligator, shark, lizard and shagreen are available for our customers. All rare leathers are selected according to strict rules for preservation of the species,” Singh adds.
The fact that the label is open for customization and personalisation is a huge leap in men’s accessories. All of these services are open to Indian customers too and it’s a delight to go through the offerings and their post patina services. “In terms of service, we do offer the exclusive Patina care in our store in Delhi thanks to our colourist; we do also provide repairs when needed. Special orders are also available upon requests,” says Singh.
With Kris Van Assche helming the label this year, the path is only going to be more radical and unconventional and we’re waiting for big things to happen.
Berluti’s bespoke tattooing service is currently available in Delhi & Mumbai at their studios. Price is subjective to one’s bespoke indulgence.
All Images: Courtesy Berluti & Hublot