American Duchess x Bata Shoe Museum Collection: The History of Pinet

We’re in the midst of our In Bloom collaboration collection pre-order with the Bata Shoe Museum, and we couldn’t be happier with the amazing reception we’ve received for Primrose, Flora and Daisy! These styles are so special to us. First of all, we’re just thrilled to be collaborating with the Bata Shoe Museum, which is an institution near and dear to our hearts. Secondly, these styles are simply special! With all the colorful satin and floral embroidery, this collection is irresistible.

If you read our last blog post about our process collaborating with the Bata Shoe Museum, then you already know that we picked three extant shoes from the 18th, 19th, and 20th century from Bata’s collection to recreate. Since we timed the collaboration with Bata’s new In Bloom- Flowers and Footwear exhibition, we chose three shoes that feature satin uppers with floral embroidery. Two of the shoes- the 19th century boots and 20th century t-straps- came from the same famous shoe designer, Jean-Louis François Pinet. These styles were the inspiration behind Flora and Daisy!

If you’re a historical shoe enthusiast, you have likely heard the name “Pinet” before. Pinet designs are iconic; they often feature gorgeously detailed satin uppers, bedecked with floral motifs and intricate embroidery. Today, we thought we would give you a bit of background on this famous shoe designer.

Jean-Louis François Pinet was born in Chateau la Vallière, France, on July 19, 1817. His father was a shoemaker, and he taught young Jean-Louis his craft. When Pinet Sr. died in 1830, the younger Pinet went to live with another master shoemaker, who continued to apprentice him. By the time Pinet was 16, he was working as a paid shoemaker himself.

It was a dream of Pinet’s to have his own independent shoemaking business. As a young man, Pinet made his way to Marseilles, where he was appointed head of the Société des Compagnons Cordonniers (that means Workers Association of Shoemaker Companions). By the mid-1840s, he had made it to Paris.

Pinet was especially interested in how industrialization could effect shoemaking, and how shoes could be improved. He designed a custom heel shape based on Louis heels, with a few marked differences. Pinet’s heel design was more slender than a traditional Louis heel, with a more contained shape at the base of the heel. This heel was very stable and lightweight, which increased comfort and safety. Pinet ended up patenting the Pinet Heel in 1854, and in 1855, he opened his own shoe factory.

A few years later, in 1858, Pinet married his wife Antoinette Euphraise Rouget. Euphraise, (as she was known), became a close collaborator with her husband, as she helped him run his business designing and manufacturing luxury shoes for ladies. The factory was quite successful, and PInet was able to expand to a larger space.

Some of Pinet’s other boot designs- luscious!

In addition to being an early proponent of industrialization in shoemaking, Pinet wanted his shoes to be well-fitting and comfortable. He was an early adopter of right-and-left lasts, which were much more comfortable than straight shoes.

At the Exposition Universelle in 1867, Pinet’s shoe display was very popular, and he even received a superbe médaille (superb medal) for his shoes. Pinet remained extremely proud of this achievement for the rest of his life.

Pinet’s innovation didn’t stop there- in 1867, he patented a machine that could make Louis heels in one piece. This made a big difference in production efficiency! By the 1870s, Pinet had over 800 people working for his shoe business. Many of these employees were women, who worked out of their homes in tough conditions embroidering the detailed textile uppers that are now so iconic of Pinet designs.

More gorgeous Pinet boots!

Pinet’s business continued to thrive as they produced beautiful designs to bedeck the feet of Paris’ ladies. Though Jean-Louis François died in 1897, the F. Pinet company continued to produce shoes and expand. In 1905. a flagship store opened in London, and by the 1920s, there were stores in New York, Vienna, and Cairo.

Daisy’s cousins- Pinet T-straps with floral embroidery.

Today, Pinet’s emblematic 19th century and early-20th century designs can be found in museum collections around the world- including the Bata Shoe Museum, of course!

If you have dreamed about having one of these historic designs for your very own, we are pleased to tell you that your dream can now come true! We at American Duchess have worked with the Bata Shoe Museum to create Flora and Daisy, inspired by a pair of Pinet boots and Pinet T-straps in their collection. Flora comes in six colors, and Daisy in five, so you are spoiled for choice! Also, every pair of shoes sold from the In Bloom collection benefits and supports The Bata Shoe Museum in their study, outreach, and conservation.

American Duchess Floras and Daisys, in just a sampling of the colors that are available!

The In Bloom collection is available for $20/€20 off each pair from April 21 through May 5 in our US and UK/EU stores. The In Bloom exhibition at the Bata Shoe Museum is on from April 20, 2023-October 6, 2024, and you should go see it!

Pre-Order is Open
April 21 – May 5, 2023
$20/€20 Discount Per Pair

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