Rita De Acosta Lydig
She was flamboyant , She was Classic , She was Art .
Born into society, her life began with legendary beauty and continued with intrigue and opulence! Married and Divorced and then Married again she launched herself into a life of Art, Fashion and Culture. She “belonged,” in the words of Vanity Fair editor Frank Crowninshield, “To the days and to the novels of Balzac, to the pages of Turgenev, the stories of Maupassant.”
Master Shoe Maker
Born in Calabria Italy , Yantory’s Journey was one of Luck and Perseverance . Pietro undertook shoemakeing between the ages of 12 and 13 working as an apprentice to a Boot-maker in Naples . During his apprenticeship Pietro retained all the knowledge the Master Boot-maker could give while dreaming of a career in Paris. From that point to achieve his goal he traveled from Genoa to Nice, to Marseilles, and then to Paris, where he was employed by some of the best shoe firms of that time. We also know that Pietro was a curator at the Musee Cluny where he studied historical textile, which would be a major influence in his later creations. Literally with no financing, he worked tireless eighteen hour days, at his goal of owning a shop in Paris. Yantourny cultivated a handcrafted, mysterious and eccentric an image as complex and exotic as his shoes.
A sign on the door of his shop on the Place de Vendome , boasted that he was the most expensive shoemaker in the wolrd . It is claimed that Yantorny crafted a perfect individualised fit which emulated the essence of the wearer though use of vintage and luxurious new materials . Yantorny was now catering to the wealthiest Clientele from France, Russia and the United States
The Infamous Rules
Newspaper photos courtesy of the New York Times
Before Yantorny would even agree to add a woman to his client list, he would demand a deposit of $1,000, from which he would subtract the price of each pair of shoe or boot supplied. He is notorious for
- Watching women walk to study their gait and movement
- A plaster model of each foot, to create a mahogany shoe last on which he would then work and mold his materials until they were as flexible as the finest of silk stocking .
- The client had no say in the outcome what materials would be used , or when they would get the shoes.
- Yantourny was illiterate, but was fluent in Spanish , French and Itallian . This perhaps explains his 3 names Pietro , Paolo and Pierre .
- Creating his signature feather-light, unique shoes often took two or three years
Copyright © 2010 Bata Shoe Museum, Toronto
Top Left Photo: Court shoes with red silk velvet uppers, embroidered with gold machine embroidery overall, handcrafted by Yantorny. Throat at centre front is decorated with an exceptionally long and pointed tongue and an oval paste buckle. Heel is covered in same red silk velvet. Lining and sock are natural colour kid leather. Circa 1920-1936.
Top Right Photo : Court shoes with metallic gold and cream silk brocade uppers, handcrafted by Yantorny.Throat at centre front is decorated with an oval paste buckle. Throat is finished with a very fine (hand) button-hole stitch. Heel is covered in same silk brocade as the upper. Lining is natural colour kid leather. Circa 1920-1936.
Middle Left and Right Photos: Court shoes with metallic silver and ivory silk brocade uppers, handcrafted by Yantorny. Throat at centre front is decorated with an exceptionally long and pointed tongue and an oval paste buckle. Throat is finished with a very fine (hand) button-hole stitch. Heel is covered in same silk brocade as the upper. The brocade is quite worn on the toe and quarters of both shoes. Lining and sock are in ivory kid leather.
Bottom Left Photo : Black silk satin shoes with black embroidery on vamp, tongue and quarters. Small rectangular buckle is attached to the cross strap. Wooden stretchers composed of 3 pieces are intact. Made by Master Shoemaker Pietro Yantorny, circa 1900-1910.
Bottom Right Photo : Pair of women’s bar shoes with tan suede doe skin uppers, handcrafted by Yantorny. Four bars run over the instep of the shoe and secure with covered buttons on the outer side of the shoe. Button holes are hand-sewn. Heel is covered in same tan suede doe skin. Lining and sock are natural colour kid leather. Circa 1920-1936.
One can only speculate when they first met… But what we do know is that not a better match existed, except one made in heaven! For Rita , shoes were her first passion , more important than clothes and art . True to form as a lady of society , Rita only walked short distances, yet she owned at least three hundred pairs of shoes. Each pair of shoes was hand-crafted by Pietro Yantorny. The shoes Pietro designed for Rita, were fashioned from costly 11th and 12th century velvets, the style varying between long and pointed toes , or square with square heels. Evening and boudoir slippers utilized brocades of gold- and silver-metal tissue, some covered with lace appliqué and leather spats that fit like a silk sock. To house these delicate, exclusive shoes… “ Legends claim ” Rita would use shoe trees crafted from the bodies of old Stradivarius violins, housed in Russian leather trunks lined with a rich cream velvet, and closed with heavy locks.
Photos of the Shoe Chest Metropolitan Museum of Art
Photos of staged shoes An Aestheste’s Lament via the Metropolitan Museum of Art
Detail Photos taken by Walker Sinclair Visuals @ the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute
A Few Of Yantorny’s Masterpieces
Artist’s Materpiece A Shoe made from feathers of the Japanese Hummingbird, Newspaper photo courtesy of the New York Times
Some Say this shoe was assembled by meticulously attaching each Japanese Hummingbird Feather ( 1.5mm long) to the upper . Some Debate impossible to attach the feathers one by one and the shoes must be constructed by attaching the hide to the upper. In a New York Times article dated March 3 1912, states, ” the feathers are each only a tenth of a inch long and one bird contributes very few , 500 skins were required to produce this pair of shoes”
Created by Yantorny as an Art Object , photo courtesy of Lust for Shoes
Not into mass production, and never sacrificing his craft to make a buck , Yantorny had a prescription for the world’s ills in his last interview with the New York Times 3 years before is death :
” One must have work which interests and tires one and quiet for thought. The quiet of the early morning out in the fields when thought is not an active process but the absorption of the wisdom with the accompaniment of a blackbird whistle . ”
” Most people need to stop and look at something outside of their lives. ”
“There was not ever any crisis in the value of what was worthwhile. All that is wrong is that the world has lost its sense of values when it gets back , there will be no more crisis .”
Toward the end of his career Yantorny The Seer , Philosopher, and Le Bottier Le Plus Cher Du Monde , concentrated on his shoe creations as Art objects to be housed in Museums to be admired in years to come . In fact the last entry in Yantourny’s Journal which is held in the collection at the Musée de la Chaussure , referring to the pair of exclusive Feathered ( Japanese hummingbird) shoes which he claimed took 6 months to make:
- “I did not make with intention of selling it ,only as a art object and just how far i can push the envelope, and my only aim is to leave something to museum of the shoe which future genrations can admire . .”
Copyright © 2010 Bata Shoe Museum, Toronto