Iconic is an overused word, however when it comes to talking about the Repetto brand it seems an apt adjective. I am a diehard fan of ballet flats. I have a couple of pairs of heels which are only wheeled into service when I know I will be mostly seated while I am wearing them. For everyday life, flats are my footwear of choice: they are perfect for comfortable and unrestricted tripping about without the attendant danger of sore feet. Over the years I have had so many pairs from different labels but never, until my recent trip to Paris, a pair of Repettos.
Rose Repetto made her first pair of ballet shoes in 1947 for her son Roland Petit who was then a 23-year-old dancer; he later became a famous choreographer. Her studio was on the Rue de Paix, in central Paris, which is close to L’Opéra (home to the Paris Opera ballet and Paris Opera ballet school). Repetto may well have continued as a speciality supplier to dancers but for the intervention of one Bridget Bardot. Bardot, who trained as a ballerina before she became famous as a sultry sex siren, asked Rose Repetto to make her a pair of ballet flats that would be suitable for everyday use. Bridget Bardot subsequently wore a pair of red Repettos in the Roger Vadim film ‘And God Created Woman’ – et voilà an iconic brand was born.
I bought my shoes at Repetto’s flagship store on the Rue de Paix. It’s different from your average shoe shop and there is more than a nod to the brand’s role as a supplier of shoes and clothes to the great and the good of the dance world. For an aspiring ballerina the shop has a dancer-in-wonderland quality: there’s a long barre on the shop floor should you wish to practise plies while deciding what to buy; the changing rooms are hung with heavy theatre-like red velvet stage curtains; and there’s a row of proper spotlights in front of the changing cubicles should you care to imagine receiving a standing ovation and red roses being thrown stage ward in your direction.
The ballet flats are displayed on a large circular shop fitting and there is a kaleidoscope of colours to choose from. I settled on the caramel coloured pair you see in the top image. I love my new shoes. I strongly suspect that I am going to build up a collection of Repettos in an array of different colours over the coming years.