Massaro has been making made-to-measure shoes since it was founded in Paris in 1894. Now, as they describe, ‘part of the Chanel constellation,’ the house is a member of The Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture for accessories.
While Chanel has a proprietary hold on Massaro’s haute couture work, private clients outside the realm of the ‘ladies who lunch in ensembles that approximate the cost of a Mercedes’ still have access to a similar, highly personal shopping experience. So, if you want that dream shoe and have the moola, here’s a bit more about the custom shoe process (shamelessly lifted from the Massaro website, edited for hyperbole):
After taking the customer’s measurements, the lastmaker notes all the aesthetic details required (such as the desired heel height) for making the wooden lasts which will be used to create the shoes. It takes four to six hours to carve them in hornbeam or beech wood. Once the order is delivered, the lasts are stored in the Massaro archives preserved since the beginning of the 20th century, comprising 8000 pairs of lasts, all marked with the names of their owners. The last-maker then designs the “primary assembly” (the part beneath the last during the assembly of the shoe) and the heel. Guided by the customer’s desires, a sketch is made of the future shoe: it will serve as a model throughout the process.
This is the person responsible for drawing up the model on the last carved by the lastmaker. This exacting task must respect certain proportions, such as the height of the upper and the quarter, in order to match the sketch as closely as possible, while at the same time ensuring the comfort of the wearer.
Based on the sketch of the shoe, the patternmaker/stitcher assembles pieces of the cut leather to form the uppers.
Also known as the assembler, attaches the uppers to the soles. This step requires great dexterity and meticulousness: curved and tight on the last, the upper must perfectly espouse the lines of the last to produce a flawlessly fitted shoe. The laster also fashions the inner parts of the uppers: stiffeners, wings and tip reinforcements.
The finisher :
Cleans, polishes and buffs the shoes. They are now ready for delivery.
Between these steps, one or several fittings take place to adjust the size, soften a curve, perfect the last waist, increase the comfort, etc. At least thirty hours are required to produce a pair of women’s shoes.
More of Massaro’s haute couture and ready-to-wear work for Chanel: