“You better look good than feel good”. In my opinion the person who said that was an idiot. Or maybe the guy was on painkillers, if we were to find him some mitigating circumstances. Next to the tooth aches, the corns caused by shoes with narrow pointed lasts hold indisputably a front-rank place on the stage of pain. How could you look good when you feel your feet as if trapped in the cellars of the Inquisition? So-called Italian lasts and (some of the) French lasts are champions in torturing lower limbs. Together with landmines they do an excellent job in turning walking into something impossible. In the future they may become the object of some new Ottawa Treaty.
I had many painful experiences with such lasts. I won’t give names, because many of the shoes that I’m talking about were well made, plus I don’t exclude the fact that there may be gentlemen whose feet shape would allow wearing those shoes. The last painful incident happened about a month ago. Although my left foot was wrapped in sticking plaster (I could have casted for The Mummy) I still didn’t escape the galling and the bathing of my feet in cold water.
Three days after that I took from the scarlet box a London Derby from Laszlo Vass, on a New Peter last (P2). I hadn’t had shoes on that last, but at the first glance it seemed to be a roomy one. My God, what a difference! I felt as if I was in a Cadillac! It was as if I myself had made those shoes. I couldn’t feel at all the aftermath of the wild night spent with the Italians. I know that Vass is famous for the U last, but I think the New Peter last is underrated, deserving a bit more attention. Although it’s not as sleek as F, it compensates a lot through its comfort. The foot is completely relaxed, the sole steps excellently. It fits very well on both calf leather and grained leather. What gives it an advantage are the simple models, especially wholecut, and the no-brogueing Derby. In order to calm its German austerity, one can also opt for a grain leather or caviar.
Aside the dark brown model that I mentioned, Rezso Kuti – Sales Manager at Laszlo Vass – sent me samples of Museum Calf (Radica). Some years ago, John Lobb started a Museum Calf trend, but in the meantime the things cooled down. Nevertheless, I remained with a Museum Calf nostalgia, so three of the next four models are made from Radica : a very beautiful leather in amber nuances named Gold Museum (Alt English Plain Model on F last), Brown Museum Calf (London Derby on New Peter last and Old English Plain on F last), and finally Bordeaux leather (Budapest Oxford model on F last).
I will not insist on the construction because I can only say good things about it, Vass remaining, after all these years, in the top of shoemakers with the best price per value ratio for MTO. Going back to lasts and comparing the pros/cons, from my point of view F is the leader, followed closely by the New Peter (a bit more casual) and the elegant but demanding U. I think Vass should focus his attention on the New Peter last – a New Peter 3, somehow fitter, would probably be a success.
For more details about lasts visit Laszlo Vass official website here or read Laszlo Vass interview here.