In a little workshop not far from the Paris Opera House, Rose Repetto sewed her first ballet pointe shoe for her son Roland Petit in 1947. But there was something about that simple little slipper’s stitching, flexible comfort and beauty that inspired her to turn it into what would become the ultimate item in understated chic – the ballerina flat.
Actress -- and once-aspiring ballerina -- Brigitte Bardot put this purveyor of elegant little shoes on the map when she requested a comfortable red pair she could wear in the 1956 Roger Vadim film “And God Created Woman.” For Repetto, things were never the same after that; by 1959, she opened her first boutique at 22 Rue de la Paix. Since then, countless celebrities and fashionistas have sported these handmade shoes with crisp capris and timeless boatneck tops. The brand has branched out into jazz shoes for men (bad-boy singer Serge Gainsbourg was a fan of them in the 1970s), gorgeous two-toned high heels, boots and a rainbow’s worth of flats for youngsters whose parents are eager to introduce them to exclusivity early.
Yes, you can buy Repetto shoes in the United States at Bergdorf’s and Saks. But when you’re in Paris, it’s worth a pilgrimage to the shoe store built by one loving mom’s needle and thread. Between the ambiance (those ladylike chandeliers!), the polite service and, of course, your purchase, you’re guaranteed to leave feeling like an Etoile in the Paris Opera Ballet.