By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
Bozo the Clown’s shoes, big as canoe paddles, sit on a shelf in Pasquale Fabrizio’s shop on San Vicente Boulevard. He’s making copies of the floppy soles for a movie. Afterward, the originals will go to a museum for safekeeping.
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Coffee and cigarette heels: Pasquale Fabrizio, cobbler and cappuccino maestro
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Slipper wizard: From the Smithsonian to Fabrizio, Dorothy's ruby soles restored
There’s plenty of amazing stuff lying around Pasquale’s Shoe Repair. Draped casually over a hook, with one of its leather handles coming apart, is a hobo purse.
“You’re probably looking at twenty grand,” Fabrizio says of the Bottega Veneta bag.
The purse’s owner said to Fabrizio’s wife, Lina, “Lina, can you believe it? I love this bag more than my life.”
“Do you mean that?” Lina asked.
The woman thought for a while. “No. I love my son more.”
Purses and shoes you could barter for family members are commonplace at Pasquale’s. A $45,000 Chanel croc bag breezed through recently. He’s seen more celebrity feet than a Beverly Hills podiatrist. Fabrizio, master cobbler to the stars — to anyone, really, who appreciates a well-kept shoe — is a fixer of ailing soles. And souls.
People often have their hearts broken by shoes and accessories. They come to Fabrizio looking for a fix. One woman had fallen in love with her J. Crew leather flip-flops. Alas, they had been discontinued. She asked Fabrizio to make more. Could it be done?
“Understand one thing,” he said, “anything can be done.”
He once built a three-legged monster costume for two 300-pound wrestlers. He fashioned a steel brace for the shared third leg, so that one wrestler standing inside the suit wouldn’t crush the other’s foot. He built up the calves of Angelina Jolie’s Jimmy Choo boots in Mr. & Mrs. Smith to make them thigh-high, and he swapped out the heels — 80 pairs at a time — so she could run around comfortably during stunts. He duplicated Muhammad Ali’s Everlasts — down to the tassels — for Will Smith, then, as Smith wore out their rubber soles from hours of practice in the ring, he resoled them. When Frank Darabont, the director of The Green Mile, needed the squeak removed from a pair of boots, Fabrizio came through ... and did so again when Darabont changed his mind and wanted the squeak returned. One regular customer even implored Fabrizio to fix a Jacuzzi cover. The dog had chewed it.
Lina waves a pair of ivory-silk Louboutins, tight as a Victorian corset. “How much can these be stretched?”
He throws the shoes a cursory glance. “Oh, we can get something out of them.”
Louboutins are like Ferraris: always in the shop. Their trademark arterial red soles need periodic touchups. Fabrizio holds a tiny vial of custom red paint mix in the air like it’s the elixir of life. He has even innovated upon his own innovation. Recently he came across a thin, gleaming sheath of rubber in Louboutin red. Rubber won’t scuff off like paint. “Everybody is going to want this,” he says.
Clients have been so impressed with Fabrizio’s knowledge of shoe architecture, they have begged him to go shopping with them. They tell him they’d pay him $400 an hour to advise them on the merits of Cole Haan versus Gucci loafers. Five hundred! Six!
“It’s not money I am looking for,” he’ll demur. “I cannot afford to leave the business alone. Someone will start to suffer.”
Fabrizio is a democratic cobbler: You treat your customers the same way, he says, whether they bring in a $50, $500 or $5,000 shoe.
A passionate man, Fabrizio has strong opinions about shoes. Uggs deeply offend him. Especially scruffy ones. “It looks like a slipper, for god’s sake. You see these young women letting their boots go down at the heel and you think, What is that about?”
Another phenomenon that has recently been driving him nuts is this distressing trend: People ask him to make their boots look worn in. “How many years?” he’ll ask. Ten? Twenty? But what exactly does 10 years’ worth of wear look like? It’s a gray area. Distressing Cindy Crawford’s husband’s brand new Prada jacket was, well, distressing.
“More,” said Mr. Cindy Crawford.
“Are you sure?” said Fabrizio, gently touching the supple leather.
Ever play six degrees of Kevin Bacon? It’s more like one degree of Pasquale Fabrizio. His client list reads like the Internet Movie Database. Try to stump him. You can’t.
Has he done shoes for Britney?
“We added high heels to her moccasins.”
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