Edward Green Dover from Nightshade to Orchid - a patina artistry post from the Valet, Savile Row
A rather delayed post this one, since it has taken me ages to actually go and pick the shoes up once the patina work was finished. Apologies also that I've been slow to update the blog - work has been rather busy, but I've a good few good topics queued up now and should get to a regular schedule again.
I've written previously very positively on the work of the Valet, run by Tom Beecroft (previously known as the Jaunty Flaneur) and their excellent shoe patina work. Shoe patina artistry is the niche arm of an already niche hobby, but it's a fabulous company and well worth your support. They previously reworked a pair of crust leather Saint Crispin's from a dark brown to an eye-popping cherry red after I damaged the finish, shown below. I wore them recently for a wedding and thoroughly enjoyed it.
After getting the Saint Crispin's back, I reflected on the rest of the shoes in my collection and settled on the Edward Green Dover shown below as being a bit redundant in their current form. Purchased in EG's Nightshade colour, the leather has come to lack a bit of oomph through age, and I've never been that enamoured with the blobby toe burnishing on evidence (not uncommon from EG, sadly, exactly the same issue as with my now-sold Galway boots). The leather itself came across as a bit lifeless, and they just had little use in my rotation and very rarely got worn.
I took them into the Valet and discussed with Tom what the best options were in terms of patina work. I liked the idea of a more obviously purple shade - Nightshade is more reddish and perhaps a bit more classically acceptable, whereas I was hoping for something a bit more eye-catching. From what I've been able to learn of patina application, enhancing a shoe's existing colour is one of the more straightforward things to do compared to outright changing it.
Tom suggested we pop down to Gaziano & Girling's shop to identify a particular shade from there - he grabbed one of their Orchid patina shoes on display (shown above), and we agreed that would be a good colour to aim for. As you can see, it's a vibrantly purple shade.
Some weeks passed and it was time to pick them up. The Valet are currently between premises - they previously had a shop on Savile Row, but are currently in a room at 12a Savile Row (ring the buzzer for Edward Sexton and head all the way up the stairs to find them), but will hopefully have some more visible (and larger) premises secured soon.
To be honest, it had been so long since dropping them off that I had lost my mental image of what I was hoping they would look like. I was pleased to see Tom had done a better job even than I expected.
The overall effect is slightly museum-ish, with a bit more variance in the exact tone than the Gaziano & Girling ones and a slightly more dappled overall colour. Like a lot of darker shoe colours, the purple is apparent in direct light, but when seen from a distance or in a bit of shade it's a lot more muted. Compare these shots, one taken in shadow, the other in direct light, to see what I mean.
The effect is far from overpowering and is I think a really nice treatment for an unorthodox colour. It actually reminds me a bit of Acme's popular Galaxy patina here:
The only complaint I had from my Saint Crispin's finish was some small smudges and imperfections of colour in the red, especially around the panel edges of the wingtip. This is not really the case here - the finish is pretty neat and consistent, although maybe fractionally more streaky on the top on the left shoe than the right. .
The toe burnishing is far neater than the original Edward Green treatment, with a more gradual darkened section at the toe that looks much better to my eye. The toes are finished with a mirror shine. The shoes were provided back with a branded shoe bags from the Valet and a handy shoebox-sized fabric bag. Not necessary, but very welcome touches.
I confess it also gives me satisfaction to do this with Edward Green Dovers: while undeniably a real classic design, the maker is still very conservative in aesthetic. Their colour options don't get much wilder than Nightshade, so if you want something more vibrant you really do need to look at a professional patina service.
I suspect some people will prefer the original colour and might even see the new as a bit vulgar. But I have a collection full of "conservative" colours, so the addition of a vibrant one is good for me. Traditionalists might ask what the real use case for purple shoes is, to which I'd reply the use case for 90% of my shoes these days is to wear the same pair of white Common Projects. Since I don't need to wear nice shoes for work, they are very much optional wear, so having a "fun" colour does little to diminish their usefulness for me.
And quite frankly, I've got every shade of brown, burgundy and red covered now in other pairs, so moving into the rest of the colour spectrum feels sensible. I wouldn't recommend them for a 1st or even 5th pair, but as you move into double figures of pairs they are worth thinking about.
As with the previous pair, the cost for this full patina was £145. And as with the previous pair, I can see how that might seem a lot of money, but it is time-consuming work to do well, and if it can re-invigorate an expensive pair of shoes that would otherwise gather dust, I think it's very much worth it.