Men and women can't see eye to eye on many things, especially shoes: women might turn on their heels right away when they see a man in ugly shoes; but when a woman tries to initiate a conversation with a man about his impeccable footwear, it's his turn to give the cold shoulder. 'If you are woman, it's not easy [to talk about shoes with men],' says French master shoemaker Pierre Corthay. '[Shoes] are like planes, cars ... I'm crazy about vehicles, and shoes are like a car. It has everything. Men like to talk about these things with other men. It's like forming some sort of a private club.' Apparently, it's not you, it's him. To men in the know, a good pair of shoes means something different: 'It's a weapon of seduction,' says Corthay. 'It's part of a secret they share.' Hence a private dinner the bottier hosted recently with some 20 men about town who appreciate good shoes, a group which included Jonathan Zeman, Leonard Chao, Howard Ku and Winston Koo. Women cannot resist men in nice shoes - a man in a pair of beautifully crafted shoes that fit perfectly on his feet always draws their eyes, says the artisan, to whom the French government bestowed the title of Maitre d'Art two years ago. 'Women only look at the design and the colour [of the shoes]. They buy shoes in the window. But men's shoes are like sculptures. If you look at men's fashion blogs in France, they love to talk about the technical details [of clothes and shoes]... as if they are sharing a part of secret.' Corthay swipes a finger across the screen of his iPad, enthusiastically showing photos of his elegant footwear accentuated by fine detailing and bright colours that transform even the most traditional design into something very chic. The 48-year-old grew up in a family of actors and artists, and developed a love for leather at a young age because of an aunt who sculpted leather. When Corthay was 16, his father, an actor, suggested that the teenager join the Compagnons du Tour de France, an organisation of artisans in which master craftsmen take their apprentices on a circuit of the country as part of their technical training. Corthay honed his shoemaking skills with John Lobb for two years before joining Talbinio Berluti as a senior craftsman. A year later, he was put in charge of the made-to-measure atelier; he was just 23 years old. The five years he spent running Berluti gave the shoemaker a solid foundation when he eventually set up his own atelier in 1990 - at the age of 28 - in a space near the Place Vendome in Paris. He made it big with his first order - 150 pairs of bespoke shoes for the Sultan of Brunei. In 2000, Corthay launched a ready-to-wear line and three years later, opened a workshop to produce his designs. Since then, he has also collaborated with fashion houses from Yohji Yamamoto to Dior haute couture and Lanvin. The latest goal on Corthay's agenda is to establish a stronger connection with Asia. He has had a store in Tokyo for six years and his ready-to-wear line is now available at Lane Crawford in Hong Kong, but bespoke shoes that cost from Euro3,000 (HK$32,000) to Euro6,000 a pair have yet to become popular in the region. Fewer than 25 men from Beijing, Singapore and Seoul have his luxurious custom-made footwear in their wardrobes - only 130 pairs are made each year. But it's too early to tell how many more men from Hong Kong will join the queue. 'This is very new in Asia. Even in Europe, men only began paying attention to quality shoes 12 or 15 years ago. There weren't too many choices,' Corthay says. He aims to create shoes that are sophisticated yet funky, stylish and fun, but still look proper enough for bankers to wear to the office during the day. If the colours from his Electrochoc collection are too bright, for instance, one can always go for the subtle Oedipe Roi, a simple Oxford with an unexpected bright colour trim to show the wearer is still something of a maverick. Corthay expects men's shoes will develop a more 'dandy and sophisticated' look, but suggests the essence of dandyism from the days of Oscar Wilde is a rare quality in the modern male. 'Those guys were rebels, showing their individuality with their clothes, and not caring about what others thought,' he says. 'Today ... you can dress like a dandy, but very few can call themselves a dandy. You have to be very smart and be a leader.' Regardless, shoes remain an important symbol that says a lot about where the wearer comes from, Corthay says. The man who pulls on a pair of his custom-made shoes must not only have great wealth, but also considerable patience. It takes five months to have the first pair of shoes made at the bottier, from taking measurements of the client's feet and sculpting a shoe last to a trial fitting to ensure the shoes fit comfortably and finalising the design and detailing. It's certainly a virtue that women value. If Corthay is right, women should pipe down and keep their eyes peeled for men who have such patience - they are a dying breed.