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It was the year 1946, the war had only just ended, and Capri was, once again, inundated with travelers arriving from every corner of the globe: royals, artists, intellectuals, and actors, all of whom shared the same desire to enjoy life like never before. Just a few years later, the economic boom exploded and Capri became the heart of the Dolce Vita and an obligatory port of call for members of the Italian star system.
This said, in the late 1940’s, Capri’s economy was still based almost entirely on fishing and there were only a very few hotels on the island. Opposite the most important of these, the historic Grand Hotel Quisisana, my grandfather, Amedeo Canfora decided to open a sandal shop. A modest little shop, with a workbench on which to make his sandals, walls hung with soles and costume jewelry, and shelves filled with books in which the measurements of the most important regular clients were recorded and carefully conserved.
Within no time at all word reached the mainland that Canfora’s sandals were the finest of all those made on the island of Capri: being both the most beautiful and durable. Soraya, Princess Margaret, Maria Callas and Grace Kelly were among the first famous clients to purchase a pair of Canfora’s made-to-measure sandals…. And yet, whether she was a crowned princess or a modest maid, my Grandfather treated all his customers with the very same discretion and devotion.
The only exception he ever made was for Jackie Kennedy, in 1962. Having heard that the best sandals were made by Canfora, America’s notoriously fashion conscious First Lady asked that the shop be opened exclusively for her, at midnight, so that she could choose her sandals at leisure and in the utmost privacy. Jackie Kennedy’s request was satisfied, and as a result, Amedeo Canfora created the K model: a sandal as simple and chic as the female style icon who inspired it. K sandals have been included in every collection since and they are still one of the most popular of all the styles sold. Jackie returned on numerous occasions over the years, before and after having married Onassis, to purchase yet more sandals by Canfora.
Canfora’s sandal shop is still located at the start of Via Camerelle, the road which has become famous for its boutiques selling the finest designer clothes and accessories. The style of the shop has remained that of a simple artisan’s workshop. My grandfather transmitted both his passion and skill to his children, Angela, Rita and Michele (my father). They then taught the art of sandal making to my brother Fabrizio and to me, Costanzo. When not making sandals, I am responsible for the company’s ecommerce.