Recently, I was introduced to the book The Gentleman’s Slipper by Fiona Dreesmann, who is the founder of My Slippers, a
London-based purveyor of bespoke Albert slippers.
Since I am a fan of all kinds of slippers for domestic wear, I reached out to her and she kindly sent us a copy of her 2011 book.
I was impressed to see that Julian Fellows – the creator of Downton Abbey– had written the foreword. He rightfully points out that the slipper, whether worn by gentlemen or ladies, has always been a very intimate shoe with an inherent element of privacy and luxury. Despite the slipper’s original purpose, today there are quite a few people who wear their slippers wherever they go.
In the first chapter, I learned how Mrs. Dreesmann got into making slippers in the first place. Initially, she wanted to make her father a rather unique birthday present. She made him the needlework canvas, but he had to make the slippers himself. Next, her husband also received a pair – this time a full pair – and when he brought them on a trip were they stayed at a chalet near Megève, the host was impressed by the shoes. In a moment of madness, as she describes, she volunteered to make the proprietor a unique pair that reflected his multinational background . Fascinated by the work and determined to reintroduce the slipper as a household item, Fiona started her own slipper company.
The historical section of the text is not overly detailed, but it points out various techniques of slipper making, such as brass nailing the soles. Usually, only Austro-Hungarian shoemakers would choose to attach the soles to with wood pegs. In addition, I found it interesting to see that the British slippers used to be made in a similar way.
The majority of the book is dedicated to various slippers and their owners. Of course, you will find some stars, such as Brad Pitt, race car legend Sir Jackie Stewart, the Pope Benedict XVI and his shoes or author Nick Foulkes, but also a number of less known gentleman who present us with their slipper collections.
Altogether, The Gentleman’s Slipper makes a great coffee table book and considering that all the proceeds of this book go to the initiative Help for Heroes, which helps injured servicemen, the purchase of this book is a no-brainer, especially if you are into shoes. Just take a look at the faux spectator slippers by George Cleverly!
It can be purchased directly at the My Slippers website for £35.Hardcover: 137 pages
Publisher: DoubleF Publishing – 2011