Loafing In Style

Vamping up mediterranean casual glamour

Luke Middleton

The evolution of the loafer towards formality has been gradual. But during this process, it seems its key asset of mobilizing casual glamour may have been overlooked. Capturing the zeitgeist of the modern man, the loafers on this platform reconcile a renewed hunger for comfort and elegance.

Shy, delicate and a self-effacing man, King George VI was an inveterate smoker who used to pace around his country houses with worry. A torturous habit for his feet in formal shoes – he commissioned London shoemaker Wildsmith to produce a bespoke slip-on model in 1926.

Credited as being the first modern loafer – its royal roots didn’t bestow it a place in the pageant of formality. Reluctant to show deference to the strict royal dress etiquette, the Duke of Windsor was an early proponent of wearing a more substantial loafer with smart tailoring. Pulled along by Dizzy (short for Disraeli) one of his pack of pugs, the Duke was famously pictured fetching his wife at Nice Airport sporting a pale-hued suit, bow-tie, Panama hat and a pair of two-tone Penny loafers. Greek shipping tycoon Aristotle Onassis shared the Duke’s appetite for combining two-tone loafers, this time featuring a tassel with lightweight suits, and importantly accessorized with long navy socks. Strolling along the Côte d’Azur with co-star Grace Kelly in the Alfred Hitchcock-directed film To Catch a Thief, 1955, Cary Grant’s tan calfskin tassel loafers acted as a timeless Riviera pivot to his tailored separates.

The Duke of Windsor, Onassis, and Grant set an early precedent on how to utilize the loafer to portray that high-end Mediterranean casual glamour. But, they were in a small faction – as across the Atlantic, the Penny loafer was fervently adopted by American college students. Buoyed at the sight of JFK sporting sleek Penny loafers with a natty navy blazer and cream trousers, some former Ivy Stylemeisters replicated this look when they entered the corporate world. But, if it looked like the loafers’ evolution towards formality was gathering pace, James Dean and Elvis Presley rocked up. Two figureheads in the art of dressing casually, the Penny loafer became synonymous with hard-edged casualwear.

Originally a symbol of informal luxury, the Gucci horsebit loafer was deemed smart enough by then CIA boss George H.W. Bush who wore them to meetings with President Ford at the White House. A critical point in the acceptability of loafers in dressed-up metropolitan settings, when Ronald Reagan took office in 1981, the pinstriped-suited bankers of Wall Street swapped their brogues for robust-yet-neat loafers. The iconic Piccadilly and Lopez models from Edward Green and John Lobb respectively, were popular replacements.

Now commonplace in boardrooms, what about the loafers’ ability in supplementing high-end casual elegance during a hot European summer? It’s a notion that is firmly part of Alexander Kraft’s sartorial enactment – to accommodate the socially-active lifestyle of the modern gentleman.

Characterised by a low heel, and shallow vamp, if these details are undersized, the Belgian loafer can become flimsy. To eliminate any of its shortcomings, and with the objective to enhance quality and elegance, Alexander Kraft has brought a very personal vision to the Belgian loafer. Handmade by a small artisanal cobbler in Portugal, he’s deliberately designed the Belgian loafer in caramel calf leather to feature a more closed and elongated shape. Walking along the cobblestone streets of St-Germain on your way to lunch at Les Deux Magots, the aforementioned design nuances ensure genuine chicness and complete stability. If in Paris, Milan or the Riviera in summer, the character of the loafers allow you to wear them sockless. However, if in London during any season, it’s advised to wear long navy socks with grey, navy or cream trousers.

Goodyear Welted for optimum quality and longevity, the tassel loafers in hand-burnished caramel brown leather are a prime example of the label’s endorsement of sartorial liberation. With a unique and lustful patina complemented by their elegant shape, these comfortable and robust tassel loafers are destined to wear with the AK MC line’s blue cotton ‘Avvocato’ jeans, linen suits, and tailored separates for entertaining nights in Monte Carlo – and all with equal aplomb.

Some variations of the loafer are now considered a classic shoe, but Alexander Kraft has cunningly sought to utilize its best asset by refining models to suit modern tastes. With subtle design nuances, the loafers in the Alexander Kraft Monte Carlo line manifest an authentic dose of casual elegance, with each one multifaceted in the way you want to style an outfit.

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