On with the dance
Repetto uses the romance of ballet to provide ultra-feminine fantasies with their windows. These always draw from the magic of classic dance, which they link to everything sweet and seductive. Founded after World War II by Rose Repetto, (mother of the great 20th century choreographer Roland Petit), the company is known worldwide for launching flat shoes as a fashion craze.
Their secret weapon, then as now, is the ballerine. The secret of these flats is their fabrication: a method known as cousu retourné, where sole and uppers are stitched together on the reverse. Many English-speakers think these shoes were a post-Kate Moss fashion. Yet, decades earlier, sex kitten Brigitte Bardot helped to create them.
”BéBé” asked founder Rose to create a shoe for her, a slipper for a non-ballerina with a special rhythm. The result was ‘Cinderella’, made to order in rouge carmin. Bardot sported those scarlet flats in her first film, “And God Created Woman”. The results were legendary: for film, for women – and for Repetto.
The ballerine fad inspired Repetto’s first boutique, where they sold tutus and tights along with the footwear. (The company still does so today). But, in 1959, they opened a more considered venue, one whose grandeur echoed the nearby National Opéra. Petit trained at the school in this ballet shrine (seen in the 2009 film La Danse).
A list of ballerine fans would include Audrey Hepburn, Catherine Deneuve, Jane Birkin and Vanessa Paradis. But an equally famous model is the soft ‘Zizi’ laceup. It was named after Roland Petit’s dancer wife Zizi Jeanmaire.
Serge Gainsbourg bought dozens of Zizis a year. But he’s not the only non-ballet male to love Repetto. Immediately after Michael Jackson’s death, the company unveiled its own slick memorial shoe.
Repetto now produces stilettos and even boots. All of them benefit from the company’s comfort secrets. But dominating their display? It’s always ballet stage magic, clever sets and sugar plums. “Our client,” said their CEO in 2008, “is the woman between 22 and 28…at least in her head.”