A Day for St Crispin, The Patron Saint of Shoemakers

Posted by: on Oct 24, 2011 | No Comments

It’s not unusual for a truly great pair of shoes to elicit an exclaiming including the words “God” or “Holy.”  But on October 25 we can take this to the next level and celebrate St Crispin’s Day.

Since sometime in the Middle Ages, shoemakers have made October 25th their day, paying tribute to St Crispin, the Patron Saint of Shoemakers.  Traditionally shops were closed in a mix of reverence and revelry, but luckily we don’t have to worry too much about that these days.  So if you’ve been looking for that excuse to take the plunge on a new pair, what better excuse than a centuries-old holiday?

St Crispin was a wealthy Roman who resorted to shoemaking when he was shunned by his traditional family for taking to the Gospels sometime in the third century.  He went to ply his trade in France and was promptly put to death for preaching, which you can see above.  Another saint, celebrated alongside St Crispin, is St Hugh.

Hailing from what is now Wales, Hugh’s story was pretty much the same, but after his death his fellow shoemakers (also called cordwainers) took his bones and made tools.  Deborah Carre of Carréducker tells me this is why shoemakers tool were traditionally referred to as “St Hugh’s Bones” in the trade.

There’s something about a great pair of shoes that has no rival in a man’s wardrobe.  A great suit is a thing of beauty, but not all of us can reasonably wear one every day.  When I asked Ms. Carre  about where she sees handmade shoes fitting into the modern gent’s wardrobe she remarked “they complete a man’s look whether he’s in a suit or jeans,” and I couldn’t agree more.  A brilliant pair of hooves is never out of place.

Mr. Euan Denholm from Northampton’s Edward Green commented “beyond the technical, as humans we want our beautiful objects to have an authenticity to them, to have a dignity to them. That comes through being created with respect and consideration by their maker, rather than rolled off an anonymous conveyor belt…Our customers know that shows in the shoes.”  It’s this deep and obvious involvement of the maker that makes a day like St Crispin’s special, whatever your religious bent may be.

Every year John Lobb Paris (Hermes) puts out a limited edition shoe to celebrate.  The 2010 model might have been the most-blogged shoe of the past year – a whole cut double monk in Black Misty Calf with proprietary Hermes-designed buckles.  This year’s model, while not quite as mystifying at first glance, is definitely no slouch.  It’s an elegant captoe oxford offered in three different color ways.  One museum calf and two suedes.  The most exciting of the bunch is the Vivid Prune Suede, though I’ll admit I don’t know what I would wear it with.

If you happen to be in London, the folks from Carréducker will be showing off their skills at the Gieves & Hawkes flagship on the corner of Savile Row and Vigo Street all day long.  If you’re in New York, maybe swing by Leffot and take a look at what Steven’s got on offer.  Paris?  Drop by Corthay.  And no matter where you are, wear a special pair of shoes!

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