Shoes, a French passion


La Chaussure, une passion française – Création & innovation depuis 150 ans (Shoes, a French passion – Creation & innovation for 150 years). An exhibition for shoes fans at l’Atelier Richelieu : the shoe in France, its history and production over 150 years. 

Organized by la Fédération Française de la Chaussure and International Museum  of shoes of the city of Romans, the exhibition aims at making the assessment of 150 years of passion. France is a fertile field for shoes. French women actually buy 6 pairs per year on average. In the beautiful space of l’Atelier Richelieu, the exhibition brings together several themes.


On the ground floor:


The factory: the major production processes and types of shoes, to make sure that the context is well understood. The educational aspect is introduced by explanatory boards. The technical side can then seem a little difficult. Fortunately, items to be touched allow this didactic part to be more lively.








Work shoes: particular jobs and risky jobs have technical requirements that have made the shoe evolve.




Children shoes: from the “corset” shoe to the toy shoe, the evolution is quite spectacular.

Leisure shoes: how everyday shoes or working shoes (often for manual work) have progressively given birth to today’s uninhibited fashion.



Video: photo reports, artistic films and corporate videos.



The Lab: the theme of this room is material and techniques. Different leathers and skins can be touched and discovered. Soles, suppleness tests, technical innovations and the “green” shoe concept are also tackled.



On the floor:

The different types of shoes: the often spectacular shoes of today’s creators, boots, ballerinas, the little black shoe (in reply to the classical little black dress), signature heels, interior shoes (their evolution and a sociological classification).

Above all, a small space is dedicated to the global historical side of the market:

–       a chronology, with brands’ foundation dates

–       a chronology looking like a family tree and some shoes stemming from the mutual influences of bootmakers and stylists

This final chronology allows us to understand what influenced the production and the industry and to see how brands were really built. In the second part of the XIXth century, the industry develops in every activity field. But the know-how, the quality and the technique are in the bootmakers’ hands.

During the XXth century, the know-how of bootmakers looks more and more attractive and industrialists try to imitate them, or even come to them, giving them a consultant status. Bootmakers also work with couturiers. At the end of the XXth, fashion had transformed the profession and the new major brands come from creators and stylists.



In the end, even if it is not really profound, the exhibition has the virtue of showing the extent of French brands’ production, of their roots and influences. As written in “Futur Chaussure”, a room dedicated to training and to the winners of Au-delà du Cuir, between the concept of the shoe and its production (with the materials, workshops, production and distribution), there is a gap that has become very complex. New companies have to combine many talents to succeed.

Photos: SB

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