Originally Posted by medwards
It is an exceptional book on shoe construction, a good book on shoe style, and an incomplete -- and somewhat dated -- book on shoemakers.
In my opinion, it's a pretty good (although not very comprehensive) book on welted
shoe construction. In this regard, and because it deals with hand-made
shoes, it deals with only hand-skived feathers, with the result that it doesn't describe an important part of the welting process that applies to most welted shoes, including the very best RTW and special-order shoes like EG that employ a linen feather and Goodyear stitching. The book would have been far more useful, in my opinion, had it covered other methods of construction as well (Blake, Blake-Rapid, Bolognese, and so on), as these are certainly used in many very fine hand-made shoes (like Lattanzi, for example). Thus, rather than exceptional, I would grade it as good
(but limited) vis-a-vis shoe construction.
As for style, I would rate it as fair, but not really that good. Vass is part of--and in some ways almost defines--a certain esthetic in shoe design. Where I feel the book is lacking is in providing any real understanding of and enthusiasm for the Italian esthetic and those shoe designers and makers who have been involved in its evolution. There is an alternative--to solidly-made welted shoes--greatly appreciated by many, involving light, sleek, trim shoes that have thinner soles, lighter construction generally, and a certain liveliness to them, and this tradition is largely absent from Vass's treatment.
Overall, the book is a very interesting read, but in my opinion falls far short of providing a comprehensive treatment of the topic.