Rosa Repetto was born in Milan, where she learned the craft of shoemaking. After her marriage to Edmond Petit, a brasserie owner in Paris, she moved to France. Their son, Roland, who later became one of the country’s biggest stars, started to dance when he was 9 years old. At 16, Roland Petit joined the Ballet de Opéra and at 20 became a legend when he created Le Jeune Homme et la Mort. Rosa was proud.
Roland and Rosa’s connection changed ballet, fashion, and family business. It all began when he started to feel discomfort and pain during the rehearsal and presentations due to his shoes. As a traditional mamma, Rosa took it upon herself to help him and per his request, created new personalized dance shoes. They were light and flexible. They looked good. Many other dancers wanted similar models. The business started to boom. The brand, Repetto, was born.
The ballerines had a very subtle change. Madame Rosa inverted the process of stitching and the result was flexible, light, and beautiful shoes. She also was creative with the pointe shoes. Hers not only was beautiful and light, but they also made less noise too.
For that alone, the brand Repetto was already famous, but it could go far. A young dancer, soon to be turned into an actress, asked Madame Rosa for ballet slippers so she could wear them on the streets as well. And… could they be red? And Rose Created the Cendrillon (Cinderella) for Brigitte Bardot. The world noticed them too.
Repetto became a fashionable and iconic brand. In the 1970s, Serge Gainsbourg brought new attention to the shoes when he fell in love with the model Madame Rosa made for her daughter-in-law, legendary dancer Renée ‘Zizi’ Jeanmaire. The white Oxfords became a hit that are top sellers to this day.
Rosa Repetto Petit passed away in 1984, at 77 years old. In 1999, the brand was sold but even with the new owners it never cut its connection with ballet. Madame Rosa is considered one of the top designers of all time, being part of a list of the 50 shoes that changed History. To think it all started with a mamma wanting to help her son …