Q: My Sergio Rossis make my legs look amazing, but after repeated wear, the shoes themselves are looking not so hot.
A: Winter is especially cruel to our shoes; the combination of snow, rain, and salt wreaks havoc on delicate leathers. But a good conditioner can salvage your shoes and protect them from future damage. Savas Masatci, a manager at Top Service (845 Seventh Avenue, at West 54th Street; 212-765-3190) who counts Calvin Klein, Prada, and Gucci among his customers, says it doesn't matter whether it's applied by the store or done at home. For $4, you can buy a do-it-yourself kit, such as Premier Salt Stain Remover, for ugly white winter marks. He also recommends Lexol leather conditioner and cleaner, sold for $5.99.
The Kenneth Cole store on the Upper West Side sends its customers to Andrade Boot and Shoe Repair (379 Amsterdam Avenue, near 78th Street; 212-787-0465) for help. Owner Galo Brito advises clients that frequent upkeep is the best way to prevent unhappy surprises, such as a broken heel during a big date or important meeting. In addition to suggesting that you keep your shoes polished so the skin doesn't dry out and crack, he also recommends bringing in wobbly heels for immediate reinforcement.
Carlos Mesquita, the owner of Shoe Service Plus (15 West 55th Street; 212-262-4823), whose clientele includes Manolo Blahnik and Hermès, goes further, recommending that people bring their shoes in before they start wearing them. "If you have nice shoes, you need to protect them," he says. "A little tap on the front, some rubber on the bottom, and you can keep the shoe looking new for longer." His customers appreciate the attention to detail. "Dye it the color of eggplant with a hint of silver," wrote one woman, while another regularly sends Mesquita her bras and panties so that he can match the color exactly. "It's all about putting some of yourself into each and every shoe," he says.