By the time this Bernardo ad was published in 1972, Bernardo had been in business for 26 years. The line was started in 1947 by Bernard and Berta Rudofsky. Interestingly, there is a connection to Western North Carolina. In 1944 Bernard and Berta spent some time at Black Mountain College, where he gave some lectures on the sad state of modern clothing. One lecture was titled “How Can People Expect to Have Good Architecture When They Wear Such Clothes?”
Berta was inspired to get together a class in sandalmaking. She must have learned quite a bit, because two years later they started Bernardo. Through the years Bernardo sandals were hand sewn in Italy, the country that provided much of the inspiration for the designs.
In the 1960s and 70s, Bernardos were the brand of choice of the Jet Set, especially after Jackie Kennedy was photographed wearing one of her sixteen pairs of the “Miami” sandal. As the ad shows, some styles were so popular that they were produced year after year.
I’m always on the lookout for vintage Bernardos, but only have found one pair. A plus, they came in the original box with the wrapping tissue.
The brand had all but died out when it was revived in the early 2000s. Some of their special sandals are still made in Italy, with the remainder being made in Brazil, still using the hand sewn method of their past. And the company’s designs are true to the originals. Last year, the company released a line of sandals from the Bernardo archive, called Bernardo Icons.
I kept meaning to buy a pair, but I am hard to fit when it comes to shoes so I was afraid to order them. I was delighted that my local privately owned shoe store carries Bernardo, and so I ended up with a pair. (Note to people in WNC, Tops still has some Icons, and they are in the Clearance Room.) I can see why they were/are so popular. For such a flat sandal, they are very comfortable. But more than that, they look fantastic!
I couldn’t resist a little comparing of the vintage and the new. It is remarkable how the shape of the sole is exactly the same in both shoes.
And one more vintage ad. This one has the same Roman statue foot that is printed on their wrapping paper!
What is so remarkable is that the Rudofskys were intellectuals, not fashion people. He was an architect and artist, and to learn more about his remarkable life, do watch the video.