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Chatelles Shoes

Like Selling Beer to Bavarians

VonFranziska Scheven

At this year’s Octoberfest, a young shoemaker from Paris stole some of the beer hall limelight with a specially designed festival women's slipper, which sold out even before the heavy drinking started.

François du Chastel with his special footwear.

The shoemaker

François du Chastel with his special footwear.

When that very German rite of singing, dancing and beer drinking ends its successful, three-week run on Sunday, one of the happy winners from this year’s €1 billion Octoberfest will be a trim, slender Parisian named François du Chastel.

Mr. du Chastel stole a page from the book of traditional sponsors such as brewers Löwenbräu and Paulaner and the many purveyors of broiled chicken “Hendle.’’ In less than a week, before Octoberfest even started on September 19, Mr. du Chastel sold out all 100 pairs of his “Chatelles,’’a woman’s slipper designed for the Bavarian “dirndl’’ dress.

The light, indoor shoes — made in Portugal and available with linen and Italian leather uppers – were sold with an embroidered heart that bore the classic Octoberfest greeting “i mog di,’’ dialect for “I like you.’’ Bavarians snapped up his special-edition Octoberfest Chatelles – which sold for €169 to €199 ($188 to $221) a pair.


“I am a fan of Oktoberfest and go there every year,” said Mr. du Chastel, a 33-year-old former mergers and acquisitions expert who became a fashion designer in 2012, and has built a growing business around derivations of his “Chatelles’’ woman’s shoe.

He said he got the idea for his slipper shoe one morning a few years ago in Paris, when his fancy was caught by the sight of a pair of uncomfortable ballerina shoes popular at the time in Paris. He had fallen in love with a girl who wore them and thought she deserved more comfortable footwear. So he designed Chatelles to caress her foot, not torture it, and included a verse by Victor Hugo embossed in the inner sole “I cannot live far away … from you any longer.”

Within a short time, he was mass producing the shoe, and this year for the first time, he came to Octoberfest, selling out his special edition to the Bavarians. The shoes incorporate the meadow heart (Wiesn Herz) image used to display such Bavarian slang as ’’O zapft is’’ –the official opening message that means: The (first) beer keg is tapped.

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