Emmanuel Farre has spent the past ten years hand-dyeing shoes. He began by practicing on tiny war figurines as a kid and later transferred his skills to shoes. Self-taught, the French patina master now has a new venture. He plans to move from his current set-up in Loding to a shop in Yorkville Village, Toronto.
LEUNG: How would you describe your patina style?
FARRE: So it’s funny. In the early beginning [when I moved from France], I was doing some really flashy colors. So people liked them. But I realized after that–it’s like having a pair of shoes for showing, you know […] So I decided to turn my mind and go for something more subtle. And this way, you can enjoy to wear your shoes every day.LEUNG: What is your favorite patina look?
FARRE: It depends what you are looking for. You also have to play with the shape of the shoes. That type of patina won’t fit on that model. So each time I am working on a patina, it’s also according to what type of shoes.
I like to say as an example to customers, ‘You might like the red Ferrari body color. But if you have a Toyota and ask for the Ferrari, [your car] will stay a Toyota.’ Sometimes a customer will ask for a crazy green, and I will say ‘No. I am not working like that and that color won’t fit that model of shoes.’
You have to be more directive because I have to follow a style direction in my work. You can say ‘no’ to a customer as long as you are explaining why, and by the end you are finding a solution.
LEUNG: So the family you are working with for your new collection is a family business?
FARRE: Yeah, it’s a family business since 1889. It’s pretty interesting for me. I wanted to create my brand name. Because I realized on Instagram [that] people are following me for the shoes, but also for the style. It’s not only a matter of shoes. I explain to them how to wear a good pair of patina shoes with a lot of outfits. A good friend of mine […] says to get out of the box is to create your own brand style [and] to be more like a stylist.
LEUNG: How long does it take to create a good patina?
FARRE: To do a good job, you need three or four days. Because it’s not 3-4 full days of work. You need the leather to rest with the dye.
LEUNG: What is the most difficult part of doing patinas?
FARRE: You have to respect your background, your roots […] My background is definitely French. My mother was an antique dealer, so all my inspiration is coming from my background. So I do believe you can feel it, actually […] You can feel into their work.
Sometimes I check what the other brands are doing. When i’m seeing some Italian brand trying to do some Norwegian stretching or round-toe like the British, I say, ‘Come on, it’s not your style […].’ So they betray their roots in a certain way. And by the end, you are losing your soul and what you want to give to people. I think it’s really important to …you are what you are–don’t try to be someone else. So be yourself. That’s it.
Emmanuel is working on launching his collection of patina-dyed, made-to-measure (MTM) shoes. The shoes are made in France by a family business founded since 1889. His new shop in Yorkville Village will offer cobbler services and his patina process, which includes salt-restoration.
Emmanuel’s services: https://maisonpatina.ca/about-us/