My Corthays – colours, issues and pleasures
I've always had a problem with Corthay shoes.
Not so much the style - while many of the designs and colours are too brash for me, I've consistently found interesting light and dark browns to keep me interested.
No, the big issue has been the last shape.
It is narrow, and the lack of widths has historically led me to size up to keep my toes comfortable, but have too much room in the back; or get the back right but be too tight around the toes.
I have three pairs of Corthay shoes, pictured above and below:dark-brown suede Arcas, mid-brown suede Bucys and light/dark brown Wilfrids.
I love them all:
- for the beautiful shape of Pierre's lasts, which manage to be elongated yet not pointy;
- for the heightened heel, which grips my narrow ankle better than any other;
- and for the internal structure, which is very stiff to start with but softens satisfyingly with time.
Indeed, the Wilfrids were my first really expensive pair of shoes.
My first double-credit-card purchase - at Leffot in New York, the week it opened.
But over the years, these fit issues have meant that all three have been criminally underworn. They've sat there, in the cupboard, gleaming peaceably while others have been selected in their stead.
I was interested to hear a couple of years ago, therefore, that Corthay had introduced a wider last - the Pullman, initially - to help cater to American customers.
I finally tried that last, and picked up a pair of boots in it, a few weeks ago.
It is a wonderful shape, still long and sleek, but subtly wider in the joints. Enough to remove my fit issues, but without sacrificing any of the Corthay look.
The model is the Bella - an elasticated ankle boot, pictured below - in black. It's a striking shoe, and one that will have to be carefully worn. Perhaps with charcoal flannel.
At the same time as the Bella, I had the staff at the London store look at my other Corthay shoes to try and improve the fit.
The Wilfirds had long had a tongue pad put in them - a piece of foam that is inserted underneath the shoe's tongue.
I find this is by far the best way to deal with having too much room in the back of the shoe, as it pushes the foot down, where using an insole (the more common alternative) lifts it out.
But the Arcas and Bucys had never had this attention.
The staff did a good job of stretching the Bucys (which were a size down from the other two, and therefore small in the front rather than large in the back), but have yet to find a solution to the Arcas.
Inserting a tongue pad is a lot harder there because they are a derby, and the tongue is therefore the whole front of the shoe.
But assuming a solution to this last issue is found, it is happy days for me and my Corthays.
The new releases for this year are largely not for me (the Cannes loafer primarily, below). But their sneakers might be interesting (only in white, not metallics or patination, again below).