The Fashion Folk S01 ep13 : Raymond Massaro, Massaro Fashion, [Paris]
Interview with Raymond Massaro
I liked Coco Chanel a lot. She was a very astute person and knew exactly what she wanted and you had to be very professional in your approach. When I created the very famous Chanel sandal in 1958, Madam Chanel was around 90 years old and she told me if a lady has four pair of sandals - beige with blue: beige with black: beige with brown: and beige with red - you can travel all around the world and you don't need any more luggage.
KM: What is Massaro?
I am the third generation of a family of boot makers since 1894 we have been
in this place, my father and three brothers – all of them were boot makers and
today I am the only one left.
KM: Back then, who was the clientele for Massaro?
At that time, very wealthy people who were staying in the surroundings.
KM: What was the style of shoes like in this time compared to now.
The main difference from 100 years ago to today is that at that time feet were
much smaller and much shorter and much narrower. For instance, 30 years
ago when he used to make shoes for top models, a greatest size was 39 and
today 39 is the smallest.
KM: So, in general, people are becoming bigger?
Ladies today they walk a lot, they did not choose to walk a lot, they had a car,
the car would stop in front of the store they wanted to enter but today they
KM: I gather the name Massaro is originally from Italian?
Originally Italian, southern Italy between Mari and Naples from where the
Massaro family came from
KM: When did Mr Massaro start doing shoes and why did he do shoes?
Mr Massaro was obliged by his father, he did not want to do this job but he
was obliged, he wanted to be in the kitchen.
His father told him that he had to study shoes so he studied during three years
in a very professional school and after these three years he wanted to join a
shoe company but not his father’s company. So he went all around Paris trying
to find a job but nobody wanted to hire him so finally he had to come back
KM: The school was in France?
The school was called Bouterie in Paris but it doesn’t exist anymore.
KM: So when was this, what years were these?
From 1944 until 1947.
His father was the boss of the company and his uncle was the chief of the
KM: In those days, what was the business like?
Fashion was not evoluting (evolving) a lot and there were some great
customers such as the Winters, the Kennedys, Barbara Hutton, these people
used to place orders for 100 to 200 pairs of shoes each time they came here.
KM: Did Monsieur Massaro work with the fashion companies to do shoes for
Every six months Massaro was making shoes for the défilé of the couture but
it was really regarded as something of secondary importance.
KM: Did the couturiers come to Monsieur Massaro and talk to him about what
they wanted in the vision of the shoe?
After the war companies such Dior and especially Chanel started to show great
interest into the accessories and that was the great famous period of what we
call the needle heel, which was very thin, and then the couturier would come to
him and discuss a lot with him in order to decide together what would be the
next improvement, what would be the next fashion. Then the accessory started
to become very important.
KM: Did he meet with Coco Chanel and with Monsieur Fath and Monsieur
Yes, especially a lot with Coco Chanel.
KM: What was she like?
She was very strict and she knew exactly what she wanted so you had to be
really very professional.
KM: How do you know a design will be timeless?
When Mr Massaro created the very famous Chanel sandal in1958, Madame
Chanel was around 90 years old and she told him if a lady has four sandals –
beige with blue, beige with black, beige with brown and beige with red, you can
go all around the world and you don’t need your luggage anymore. You are
taught only by experience and by time, you cannot know it at the time when
you design it.
KM: When Monsieur Massaro is designing shoes today what inspires him?
How does he work with a customer?
He is working like in the good old times because he will of course take every
measurement of the foot, then the lady will have to come twice only for trials
and then after these two trials he will make the shoes and he has to take into
account a lot of parameters.
KM: What can he tell from their foot?
Mr Massaro likes very much to see a beautiful foot but when a foot is beautiful
it means that it is narrow, it is long, it is thin but in that case it’s much more
difficult to make shoes for a beautiful foot than it is for a big, wide one.
KM: What about examples like the Duchess of Windsor? Is there a way of
knowing the customer from what they do with their feet?
Well she had strong requirements, she was a difficult customer and her foot
was a difficult foot because it was very boney.
KM: Where do the shoes get made, here in Paris?
Here in this shop. For a lady the price will start at 10,000 French Francs and
for a gentleman at 12,000 French Francs.
KM: Who are some of the people he really loves making shoes for?
Because the customers have strong requirements that he is obliged to
maintain top quality all the time so you see he is stimulated in fact by the
requirements of the customers.
One day a customer came here and he asked Mr Massaro, “May I enter, may I
sit down and may I drink just for five minutes”. The man said, “When I was a
child I used to come here with my father, he ordered his shoes in your factory
and today I can feel this atmosphere again and the name of the man was Mr
Venizelos the prime Minister of Greece.
OFFICIAL WEBSITE: Raymond Massaro, Massaro Fashion, Paris