Bastien Gonzalez won’t read this. However gushing his press, he never has time to read it – he’s too busy earning his praise in tending to the feet belonging to the celebrated (he didn’t divulge names of course but given that Juergen Teller recommended him to me, I’d imagine he’s handled some illustrious tootsies).
Like many successful men, he did not set out to make his name in the manner that he did. It was ironically the failing of his feet that lead him to find them in a different calling when an accident ruled out his intended career in skiing. The subsequent pain from which he suffered was cured by a podiatrist and Bastein was so impressed that he decided to train in the profession. From there, he honed his skills on the most overused and under cared for feet possible – those of waiters and waitresses. ‘Restaurant people’s feet were challenging. I like a challenge,’ Bastien told me. This boded well; my feet are not my most beautiful asset.
In a room in the Cadogan Hotel, Bastien set to the work that has seen him hailed as the ‘messiah of the naked foot’, but he offers far more than just beautifying feet, a fact he freely acknowledges: ‘people don’t only come to be treated, they come for the experience of being treated by me. As a society we miss integrity and rules, and I live by both.’ So much so that after making my feet impossibly smooth and healthy, he told me I didn’t need to come back to visit him. ‘I don’t need more clients, so I won’t tell you to come back for that reason. Your toenails are naturally curved and that you can treat at home. Beauty is a little every day, like everything. With nails, it’s the same.’
He left me with instructions on how to look after my difficult toenails – a little rolled cotton wool and the use of a toothbrush as an exfoliating tool, of all things – along with an instruction to send my mother in, as her feet are truly challenged by various bunion-related issues. Bastien, if you’ve broken your rules and are reading: the only reason I haven’t been back is ’cause your advice worked.