While at Pitti Uomo in January, I met up with Alexander Nurulaeff, the very large, very friendly Russian behind Dandy Shoe Care. I’ve admired his patination work from afar for quite a while, but this was an opportunity to have him try out his technique on a pair of my shoes.

I gave him a pair of JM Westons, cherry-red whole cuts that are around five years old. They had some signs of wear, as you see on the pictures of the toes below, but were generally in decent shape.

What I really wanted was for Alexander to alter the colour. I have two pairs of red shoes, including these, but I find I rarely wear them. They work well with a navy suit, white shirt and dark tie, but rarely persuade me to shape an entire outfit around them.

I therefore asked that they be darkened, specifically to mimic the dark-brown ‘Mark’ patina he shows on his site.

The result, received in the post a couple of weeks later, was extremely impressive. I have seen repatination done very badly, with the results cracking across the vamp of the shoe or simply chipping off after a few weeks of use.

There were no such problems here. The finish was smooth, has lasted very well and after one or two coats of cream it looks as if the shoes were always that colour. I also had an Hermes belt painted a dark, variegated brown and that turned out very well (pictures some other time).

The only point of criticism would be that the finish wasn’t quite the ‘Mark’ I had requested. It was more black than brown and faded to red rather quickly towards the mid-section. Alexander explained that the brown wasn’t quite possible, given the colour of the shoes – fine, but could perhaps have been communicated earlier – and the fading was something it was hard to specify exactly – I agree, though I would try to be more specific next time.

Overall, a beautiful piece of work. Only Berluti has matched Alexander’s work in my experience (see my Berluti repatinationhere).

Photo of Alexander: Luke Carby