The premises were once home to a hat shop for gentlemen. The “Sapataria e Chapelaria” (shoe and hat shop) was opened in 1941, but only later began to sell ties and bags – and shoes. A remodelling intervention that transformed the shop into its current splendour dates from 1940, and bears the signature of the architect Raul Tojal. The shop’s products have always stood out for their quality, and many of them also for their exclusivity. One example is the renowned hat brand Christys, for which Lord was the first representative in Portugal. In the early days the shop belonged to the Amorim family, which also owned other shops in the city. In 1954 the father of the current owner joined the Sapataria Lord as a shop assistant. He worked there for six years, learning all the intricacies and demands of the trade. For example, each assistant had their own customer portfolio to ensure the most personalised service possible. It was just not the done thing for one assistant to tend to another colleague’s customers. Another example of the small details of the trade can be seen in the blue seating. It recalls suggest an image that no longer applies and the position of the assistant on hunkers before the customer. When on thinks about shoe shops today, most customers take off their shoes and try on new one on their own, for independence and self-service is a major trend in today’s shopping experience. Many traditional shops, however, take us back to a time of a more collaborative relationship between shopper and shop assistant: where there was conversation where it was appropriate; where information on incoming new models was provided; and not all articles were available in the shop but could be ordered; in short, a complete service. Not many shoe shops are left that have fitting stools with the sloping surface on which the customer could place their leg to have their shoe removed or fitted. This shop has them.
Having gathered considerable knowledge of the trade, Mário Silva, father of the current owner, felt he was ready to open his own business. He did so in 1960, with the support of his former employer. Things went well, and Godiva grew from a single shop in Benfica into a chain. One day, in 1993, the opportunity arose to purchase the Lord shop, together with four other shoe shops. The deal was done; the new management kept all workers on; and Lord was able to retain its characteristic identity.
The shop’s good name can also be attributed to a large extent to the beauty of the space. The façade in copper tones, the door, the curved windows, the circular oculi that serve to showcase specific products, the tall hat boxes – everything comes together here to create a perfect whole, a “total work or design” – similar to other Historic Shops, for example Galeto. Where each detail was conceived in harmony with all the others: from the lines of the façade to the shop windows, the furniture and even the ashtray stands. The latter are a remnant of when it was possible to smoke in this kind of shop, while one watched a friend choose a hat, or one’s spouse try on some shoes. Despite some more recent remodelling work, all this – the original Art Déco lines and the modernist inspiration – are alive and well and eager for the visitor’s attention.
Shoes, hats and bags