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The Most Expensive Shoes In The World


Shoe Case

Pietro Yantorny, the self-proclaimed “most expensive shoemaker in the world” was an accomplished craftsman utterly devoted to his chosen artistry. 

Born in Italy to Russian parents, Pietro became an apprentice shoemaker at the age of 12. In 1898 he went to Paris and worked as a master shoemaker for all the important fashion houses of the day.  He continued his studies in London before returning to Paris. 

In 1904 he opened his own shoe salon - Rue Vendome 26 in Paris.  To attract clientele, Pietro posted a sign in the shop window proclaiming he was “the most expensive shoemaker in the world.” His statement soon became fact, and before long, the wealthiest women from around the world began to take notice.

To create his feather-light, unique shoes, Pietro used very old expensive materials including 12th century velvets, Renaissance silks, gold and silver metal tissue, brocades and rare feathers.

Only a very select clientele could afford his services. Before he would even agree to add a woman to his list, he would demand a deposit of US$1,000 (the equivalent of over US$100,000 today). He would subtract the cost of each pair of shoes supplied from this payment.

If he accepted the lady as a client, he would ask her to walk barefoot in front of him so he could study their gait, foot shape and style of movement.  This was quite shocking - akin to these wealthy society women parading nude as, at that time, women’s extremities were always to be modestly covered.

He would then make a plaster model of each foot and create a mahogany last, on which he would work and mould his materials until they were as flexible as the finest silk stocking and fitted like a second skin.

It is said that even after such an enormous financial outlay, he gave the women absolutely no say in the style, fabric or decoration of the shoes – or when they would be completed.  

Working with the utmost care, the designer would often take two to three years to complete his wonderfully detailed shoes.  He was obsessively committed to achieving a perfect, individualized fit, and created shoes with sumptuous new and historic materials that reflected the personality of the wearer.

However, his unusual business style clearly worked.  One noted client, New York socialite Rita de Acosta Lydig, commissioned several hundred pairs and reputedly had her shoe trees crafted from antique violins for the featherweight quality of their wood. These delicate, expensive shoes, were placed in trunks of Russian leather, closed with heavy locks and lined with a rich cream velvet.

While he interacted with the highest echelons of society, Yantourny was illiterate, however, he was fluent in Spanish, French and Italian. This may explain why he is known by three names: Pietro , Paolo and Pierre.  Whatever his first name, Yantourny  cultivated a handcrafted, mysterious  and eccentric image as complex and exotic as his sought after shoes.