PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 21 March, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 21 March, 2007, 12:00am

An insider's guide to your favourite fashion brands

How did it start?

The brand was established in 1947 by Rose Repetto at the request of her son, dancer and choreographer Roland Petit. Repetto opened a workshop on the Rue de la Paix in Paris, specialising in clothing and accessories for dancers, including tutus, tunics and shoes (the latter made the brand famous). Repetto quickly became the supplier of choice for professional dancers and artists, including performers from Les Folies Bergeres, who would order custom shoes from the workshop. In 1948, French actress Brigitte Bardot became a fan and asked Repetto to make street shoes, which helped put the brand on the fashion map.

In 1959, Repetto opened its first factory, followed by a boutique at 22 Rue de la Paix, where it remains to this day.

In 1968, an advertising campaign with the slogan, 'La danse, c'est ... Repetto' attracted a host of new customers from outside the dance community, including Serge Gainsbourg, whose white lace-up Repettos became part of his look. By the early 80s the company had taken over the entire building at 22 Rue de la Paix. In 1987, it was bought by American group Esmark.

After a year, Repetto was bought by CC Banque Populaire, and in the early 1990s diversified its offerings to include fitness gear and swimwear.

The brand has supplied shoes for the National Opera of Paris, the Opera of Lyon and various French ballet companies.

In 1999, the company was bought by Jean Marc Gaucher, ex-chairman of Reebok France, who relaunched the brand and its famous ballerina flat. The relaunch included collaborations with designers such as Comme des Garcons and Catherine Malandrino.

This year, Repetto celebrates its 60th anniversary with plans to open shops in Tokyo, New York and Los Angeles.

The look?

Repetto's shoes for men, women and children are made by a team of international designers. Six collections are launched every year, including the best-selling BB (ballerina), handmade using a unique stitched-returned method, with the leather sole sewn to the shoe inside out before being turned the right way around.

For spring, expect the usual ballerinas and styles such as Mary Janes and high-heeled pumps in soft leather decorated with glitter. The Comme des Garcons line features styles embellished with grommets and studs for an edgy streetwear look.

Fashion-defining moment

In 1956, Repetto created a light and comfortable ballerina inspired by the traditional pointe shoe for Brigitte Bardot to wear in the film Et dieu crea la femme (And God Created Woman). After this, Repetto shoes became a must-have fashion accessory.

Who wears them?

Catherine Deneuve, Kate Moss, Princess Caroline of Monaco, Hillary Clinton and Charlotte Gainsbourg, among others.

Fun fact:

At the end of 2004, the one-millionth pair of stitched-returned Repetto ballerinas was made.

Where can I get them?

On Pedder boutiques (Wheelock House, Pedder St, Central, tel: 2118 3489); selected Lane Crawford boutiques (tel: 2118 3388)