Italian shoemaker Stefano Bemer dies
Tributes paid to 48 year old whose workshop was frequented by celebrity clients and apprentices including Daniel Day-Lewis
Andrea Vogt in Rome / The Guardian
guardian.co.uk, Sunday 29 July 2012
The Italian shoemaker Stefano Bemer has died aged 48 after a long illness.
"A man who incarnated the true essence of the Florentine artisan has left us prematurely," the mayor of Florence, Matteo Renzi, said following Bemer's death late on Friday.
Clients including the actor Andy Garcia, the singer Julio Iglesias and the designer Gianfranco Ferré have visited his small workshop in the San Frediano district of Florence.
Bemer often recalled the day the Oscar-winning actor Daniel Day-Lewis stopped by while on holiday in Tuscany to ask him about his shoes. The next day – and for the following eight months between 1999 and 2000 – the actor showed up at 8am to work as an apprentice.
Bemer began doing shoe repairs in Greve, Chianti, in 1983 after the town cobbler died. A local aristocrat noticed his work and showed Bemer his collection of John Lobb shoes. Inspired, Bemer moved to Florence to study design and train under a veteran shoemaker. His classic shoes (he preferred calf leather, but also used crocodile, ostrich, stingray and even toad) were shipped with a brush set in a monogrammed wooden wine box.
The London shoe designer Justin FitzPatrick, who did an apprenticeship with Bemer in 2008-2009, told the Guardian: "He was a passionate, true artist and cared more about his shoes than anyone I've ever met.
"In this day and age many bespoke shoe companies are selling out to larger corporations. But he never would. He never shirked on his values."