Alessandro Berluti was born in 1865 in Senigallia, a small village in the Marches in Italy. At age 19 he left his home to seek his fortune abroad and ended up in Paris. As the 19th century drew to a close, the French capital was transforming itself, embracing the future with open arms.
Alessandro worked as a bootmaker for ten years, making bespoke shoes for clients such as Isadora Duncan, Elizabeth Arden and Helena Rubenstein. His keen eye for shape and passion for working with wooden lasts earned him a reputation as a talented bootmaker. In 1895, he used his skill to create the whole cut Alessandro shoe, marking the beginning of the House of Berluti.
In 1922, with the Roaring Twenties gathering speed, Torello Berluti enthusiastically plunged himself into the craft of bootmaking. From his father Alessandro, Torello inherited the taste for perfection. With an aesthetic eye and a profound love of shoes, he approached his work with the sensitivity of a sculptor.
Before long, Torello's bespoke shoes were synonymous with elegance and modernity. Torello opened the first Berluti workshop-boutique on Rue du Mont-Thabor in 1928, later relocating to 26, Rue Marbeuf, near the Champs-Élysées.
Talbinio began to learn the family trade at the age of 14, at the same time that he embarked on his architectural education. He worked with his father and helped modernize the House. As a young man born in the post-war period, he was driven by an urge to change and innovate and to give Berluti an international dimension.
In 1959, Talbinio launched the first Berluti ready-to-wear shoe collection, opening the door to a younger and more contemporary audience. “The spirit of the House lies in the craftsman’s respect and the artist’s disobedience.”
Since the 1960s, Olga Berluti has added innovation and artistic flair to the House. With her youthful vitality she helped transform the shop into a creative drawing room where clients could enjoy conversation in good company – Jacques Lacan would chance upon Roman Polanski and Yves Saint Laurent, Pierre Bergé and Karl Lagerfeld.
In the 1980s, she developed Venezia leather and the Berluti patina, introducing colour in the world of men’s shoes. In collaboration with Andy Warhol, Olga designed the Andy Loafer, an iconic Berluti shoe with a fixed place in the Permanent House Collection.