In the late 1960s, the only thing missing from Yves Saint Laurent’s collection was a wedge heeled espadrille. The legendary designer knocked on many a door of espadrille factories in his home country, but none could interpret his ideas.
Then in 1970, the Frenchman met Spanish shoemakers Lorenzo and Isabel Castañer at a Parisian trade fair, and they listened to his then outlandish ideas.
“If Yves Saint Laurent wanted a wedge espadrille, a wedge espadrille he would have,” Lorenzo famously said.
(Top right) The original sketch of Yves Saint Laurent’s wedge espadrille design turned into a reality by the Castañer artisans. Photo courtesy of Castañer
The husband and wife duo made Saint Laurent’s satin jute-braid fantasy a reality, and the Carina was born. The satin shoes were a hit on the runway, and top design labels came knocking. The family-run business produced quality shoes for the likes of Lanvin, Hermès and Christian Louboutin.
Today, Castañer has established its own footing and following in over 50 countries worldwide, from Spain to Singapore.
The American actress-turned-princess Grace Kelly in a pair of lace-up flats on the movie set of To Catch a Thief (1955). Photo by Getty Images
The label’s timeless espadrille — whether heeled or flat-soled — now come in a myriad of styles, colours and finishes. Last year, the Godfather of heels Manolo Blahnik put a twist on the brand’s iconic espadrilles, replacing the traditional wedge with a stiletto style. The capsule collection was to celebrate the brand’s 90th-anniversary last year.
The late Princess of Monaco Grace Kelly was so obsessed with the espadrilles that she wore them on her off days and on film sets. Royal relative Pippa Middleton sauntered into the 2018 French Open wearing jute wedges in the label’s iconic Carina and proved that one doesn’t sacrifice style for a baby bump.
This summer’s collection features modern monochromes, playful colours, and even embroidery.
The Cisus in Plata(S$390) espadrilles add a perk to beach weddings and sunset drinks. Photo courtesy of Castañer
Castañer espadrilles are available at The Shoe Salon, Level 2, Takashimaya Department Store and #03-14 Takashimaya Shopping Centre.