Shoe Couturiers

Derin Thorpe
Thu Thuy, in Hoi An

Could there be a more perfect souvenir than a pair of shoes designed expressly for you?


Sylvie Geronimi is a true craftswoman, as seen in intricate details such as leather flowers, patchwork, and lacing on pumps or sandals. Prices start at around $200, but customers get serious attention for the money, starting with a private consultation and measuring appointment. The wait: one month. 2445 Uriarte, Buenos Aires, 011-54/11-4774-5408,


Play mix and match with heels, silk, and swatches at Beautiful. The store's artists will construct anything a customer wants--sandals, slingbacks, pumps, oxfords, boots--for as little as $12. The wait: three days. 138 Street 143, Sangkat Boeung Keng Kang 3, Phnom Penh, 011-855/12-848-438


Get up-to-the-minute designer knockoffs at Liii Couture. Prices start at around $170, though shoes made with luxury fabrics and rare leathers cost even more. Bring in pages from a magazine to convey what you'd like or, better yet, a favorite shoe you're hoping to have re-created. The wait: one day. Shop #75, Tower Two Admiralty Centre, 18 Harcourt Rd., Hong Kong, 011-852/2136-9739


Heels Angels' designers Anja Hoffmann and Christiane Schulze can cobble together any shoe imaginable--wooden clog-like mules, metallic T-strap sandals, tall blue suede boots, pointy leather flats. They do it all by hand, and prices start at $170 for hip, Western-style sandals with grommets and a wooden heel. The wait: three months. Klenzestr. 45, Munich, 011-49/89-201-0136,


Using cotton, silk, leather, and even the bark of a banana tree, self-taught designer Edwin Pinto handcrafts avant-garde sandals, mules, and slippers at Janota. A pair of leather flip-flops costs $25, while more complicated sandals--with leather leaves climbing up the leg, for example--are still a bargain at $50.The wait: two weeks. Aldeia Aurino near Damian de Goa, Porvorim, Goa, 011-91/832-241-2129,


The babouche stall in the bustling Marrakech bazaar sells an overwhelming array of traditional Moroccan slippers. Pretty silk mules with intricate beadwork cost less than $10. If you don't see exactly what you're looking for, feel free to make requests--e.g., gold silk slippers with red beading and a soft leather sole--and the designers do their best to comply. The wait: two to three days. 30 Souk Smata, Marrakech, 011-212/44-440-446


Craftsmen at La Manual Alpargatera have been making espadrilles since 1941 for everyone from Ralph Lauren to Pope John Paul II. Every last detail--fabric, sole, ribbons--is hand-sewn. Customized espadrilles start at $15. The wait: two to five days, longer in summer. Carrer d'Avinyo 7, Barcelona, 011-34/93-301-0172,

United States

Kathy Pham has been crafting shoes at King Shoe in Orange County's Little Saigon since the early 1990s. She uses pigskin, calfskin, and lambskin to copy existing shoes or create new ones. Prices start at $150. The wait: one week. 9191 Bolsa Ave., Suite 119, Westminster, Calif., 714/897-4350


The family tailoring shop Thu Thuy specializes in made-to-order clothing, but the designers will also gladly fashion custom silk slippers. Floor-to-ceiling walls of beautiful silks provide design inspiration. Depending on the shape of the sole, combination of silks, and type of straps, the price varies--but rarely exceeds $10. The wait: one day. 60 Le Loi St., Hoi An, 011-84/510-861-699,

Repairs in a pinch

Nothing's worse than an untimely shoe snafu. These repair shops are known for quality with a quick turnaround. The only downside: That's one less excuse to buy a new pair. --Brooke Kosofsky Glassberg

  • Chicago: Brooks Shoe Service 55 E. Washington St., 312/372-2504, $10 to repair a broken strap
  • Coral Gables, Fla:. Gables Shoe Repair 2615 Ponce De Leon Blvd., 305/448-6390, $7 to replace a heel tip
  • London:Classic Shoe Repairs 23-25 Brecknock Rd., Camden, 011-44/20-7485-5275, $14 to patch a rip
  • Los Angeles:Arturo's Shoe Fixx 9643 Santa Monica Blvd., 310/278-9585, $6 to fix a tear
  • New York City:Top Service 845 Seventh Ave., 212/765-3190, $22 to mend a broken heel
  • Paris:Pulin 5 rue Chauveau Lagarde, 011-33/1-42-65-08-57, $12 to add a silicone insole
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