A few weeks ago, against my better judgment, I decided to invest in a pair of Hermes shoes, the Rivoli mules to be precise. As a luxury lover, I have never had a problem with spending a small fortune on good quality fashion accessories, knowing full-well they would last forever and give me much enjoyment. Yet, when it comes to Hermes footwear even I had to ask myself, where to draw the line when spending money on a pair of designer shoes?

Anyone familiar with Hermes will know that, over the years, the fashion house has proven that there was no such thing as an average market price in the realm of high-end goods. But while constantly pushing the boundaries in terms of cost and attainability of many of their designs, often to the point of absurdity (Birkin bag, anyone…?), it never seemed quite enough to deter fashion lovers from craving a piece of magic encased in that captivating orange box. To my own detriment, I am one of those people completely unable to resist the Hermes sparkle and hence the decision to add one of their designs to my ever growing shoe collection.

There is absolutely no denying that Hermes Rivoli mules are exquisite. But equally so, in terms of look and functionality, they are not that far removed from the incredibly popular Gucci Princetown mules (for review, click here). Except for the fit-inducing price tag, of course, being nearly double of the Gucci equivalent. So what makes Hermes Rivoli mules so special to justify the exorbitant price? Are you paying just for the tag or are the shoes really far superior to similar styles offered by competing luxury brands? In this review, I will try to answer these questions and, hopefully, help those of you who are still wondering whether it is worth breaking the bank to score a pair of Hermes Rivoli mules.

Hermes Rivoli mules

Aesthetics

Hermes Rivoli mules are available in many different colours, including white, silver and pink. The ones shown in this review are black and made of soft goatskin with bubinga pink insole and lining. Those who are not keen on the pinkish insole may opt for the hazelnut finish, which is the classic version. At the time when I was placing the order, the classic version was out of stock. And frankly, I was not particularly fussed about the colour of the shoes’ lining (who is, anyway?!). As long as they came in black, I was happy.

The shoes have a small heel measuring approximately 3cm which is somewhat higher than your average mule. The outer sole is relatively slimline and gently profiled, finished with an almond-shaped pointed toe. In the EU size 38, it measures about 26cm in length and 8.5cm in its widest part. By comparison, the inner sole measures approximately 25.5cm in length and 8cm in width.

Hermes Rivoli mules
Hermes Rivoli mules sole view

As is expected from any high-end footwear, Rivolis are made entirely of leather, including the inner sole lining. I am deliberately flagging up the lining as not all Hermes styles have it, for instance the Oz mules, which are padded mostly in cotton canvas. Some reviews make the point that, while it looks good, the canvas is not necessarily comfortable. Luckily, the leather lining of Rivoli mules does not compromise their wearability in any way. 

The leather uppers are adorned with a double fringe detail and feature a palladium-plated decorative “H” logo. The “H” is quite prominent with dimensions of 4cm x 2.5cm. The ornamental detailing on most of Hermes mules, including the coveted Oz mule, has a silver finish.  Personally, I prefer golden hardware and I tend to gravitate towards it in most of my bags. Unfortunately, Rivoli mules do not have a gold-tone alternative (at least not at the time of writing this review).

However, the good news is that those who love Hermes mules, but are not entirely enthusiastic about the silverware, can opt for Trocadero mules which have the permabrass i.e. pale gold detail option. I have also recently spotted a seasonal iteration of the Oz mule with permabrass buckle. So it looks like Hermes are beginning to be more flexible with the colour of the metal detailing in mules, which is a positive move.  [Back to Menu]

Hermes Rivoli mules

Fit and comfort

The one truth, which I have learned from buying several pairs of mules over the years, was never to make assumptions about them from the price tag only. While reasonably priced, high-street designs can fit perfectly from the very first wear, some styles offered by luxury brands require a lot of stretching before they become comfortable.

This is why, I was not sure what to expect from Hermes Rivoli mules. In fact, I was somewhat suspicious that the relatively narrow cut of the toe box, combined with the slightly higher heel, might cause the foot to slip forward and gently crush toes. On top of that, I had concerns that the toe box caging was looser than that of Princetown mules, which might cause the foot to slip out of the shoe while walking.

Luckily, none of this happened. In fact, the Rivoli mules turned out to be exceptionally comfortable from the very first outing. No toe crushing, no slipping, no repetitive friction from the bending leather uppers rubbing against the skin, causing blisters. The shoes are very soft, provide a good support for the ball of the foot, and are impeccably balanced. The profile, which includes a small, but not too flat a heel, makes the mules easy to wear for longer periods of time, as less pressure is applied to foot arches. Plus, they give slightly more elevation than other flat designs but without creating a thick matronly heel effect.

Honestly, as far as the fit goes, Hermes Rivoli mules could not be more perfect. I have worn them for a few hours at any one time while doing a lot of walking with no issues whatsoever. I know that nothing less should be expected from such an expensive pair of shoes. Nonetheless, as mentioned earlier, the price of mules and their comfort do not always go hand in hand. [Back to Menu]

Rivoli and Classic Chanel

Do Hermes Rivoli mules run true to size?

I ordered my Rivoli mules through the Hermes website, and before doing so, I tried to gather some information about their sizing online. Unfortunately, that ended up being a complete waste of time as there appeared be no reviews at all. Strange, because I thought that Hermes Rivoli mules were very popular!

The initial pair, which I got, was in my usual size EU 37.5 (that is 4.5 in the UK) but I was not quite sure about them so I ended up exchanging them. It is not that the shoes were too small, but I felt they would look and fit better by going half a size up. Hence, in the next pair I opted for EU size 38 (UK size 5) and those were the Hermes mules I decided to keep.

The reason why the larger size may be the better option in this style is the fact that toe box in Rivoli mules is almond shaped with a relatively narrow tip. The slim ending naturally restricts the space which can be occupied by the foot in the toe box. While the foot is resting in the shoe, they look fine. However, during walking, and especially as the foot swells up throughout the day, there is a tendency for it to be pushed outwards, creating the “overflowing heel” effect.

When the heel projects outwards beyond the inner sole, it creates the impression that the shoes are too small (even though they are not, in reality), and this sight is never particularly fetching when it comes to mules. I know this is a common occurrence in mules and many people who do not care much about that aspect. However, I wanted to flag it up to those of you who, like me, are more fastidious and prefer for the heel not to spill out of the mules while walking. [Back to Menu]

Hermes Rivoli mules

Wear and tear

At the time of writing this post, Hermes Rivoli mules have been in my possession for about three of months and I have only worn them a few times.

So far, I have not observed any unusual tendency for wear and tear. There are a couple of scuffs and scratches in the leather, particularly at the fronts, i.e. in the tip of the toe area, but these are very minor. Photo 1, below, demonstrates the extent of marks currently showing on my Rivoli mules.

There is also some creasing in the leather uppers, which naturally bend during walking, but this is something that cannot be avoided. The great thing about Rivoli mules is that the leather uppers are decorated with a double fringe motif which covers the crease and therefore makes the shoes more aesthetically pleasing.

Hermes Rivoli mule wear and tear
Photo 1: Scuffs in the leather marked in circles
Plastic protectol on the hardware of Rivoli shoe
Photo 2: Corners of plastic protectors peeling away with use

The one aspect of the mules with some predisposition for deterioration is the metal “H” plaque adorning the leather uppers. As you would expect, the palladium-finish, high-shine metal can be scratched and even chipped. To delay the process, I would recommend retaining the transparent plastic protectors covering the plaques. They are virtually imperceptible so the visual appeal of Rivoli mules will not be compromised by keeping them on. Naturally with wear, the corners of the protectors start peeling away  (this is also the case with protectors on the metalware of Birkin or Kelly bags). Photo 2, above, shows the gently peeling corners of the transparent plastic covers. Nevertheless, it is best to retain them for as long as possible to safeguard the ornamental “H” logo. [Back to Menu]

Hermes Rivoli mules

Hermes Rivoli mules or Gucci Princetown?

I have been a big fan of Gucci Princetown mules for a while because of their comfort and versatility. In fact, they have become one of my favourite shoe designs of the last couple of years. Hence, I was quite curious to see if Hermes Rivoli mules would match the wow factor of Princetowns.

While both styles are very comfortable, there are a few differentiating elements. The main one is the overall look and feel of the shoes. Rivoli mules have a more formal appearance, conveyed through the profiled toe box, the conspicuous decorative elements, and the higher heel. They can be toned down and be worn with jeans, but they still look quite dressy, in my opinion. Hence, they might be better suited for the smart or smart-causal look, rather than the simple jeans and t-shirt combo.

By contrast, Gucci Princetown mules are less ornamental, have a lower heel of just 1cm and are finished with a subtle gold-tone detailing. While the leather uppers have a slimline design, the toe cap is less pointy and thus projecting a rather casual chic. However, the great thing about Princetowns is that they can also be styled-up to coordinate with the more sophisticated attire. As such, they are arguably more adaptable than Rivoli mules. Personally, I can think of so many ways to wear Princetowns. With Hermes Rivoli mules, I sometimes struggle to find the right clothes to pair them up with and, because of that, I end up using them less frequently.

Hermes Rivoli vs Gucci Princetown mule
Photo 1: The above photo shows the difference in the appearance between Princetown and Rivoli mules. The creasing in the leather is visibly more prominent in the Princetown mule.
Rivoli vs Princetown mule heel comparison
Photo 2: Hermes Rivoli mules have considerably higher heel than Princetowns.

Having said that, certain aspects of the design of Hermes Rivoli mules make them the more superior option. The one thing that has always bothered me in Gucci Princetown mules was the fact that the leather uppers creased quite easily. After a while, you will end up with very visible wrinkles and lines which are not going away. I have always been filling the mules with shoe inserts when not in use, but that made no difference whatsoever. Some might say that this phenomenon should reasonably be expected from that style of shoes. Still, I find these creases quite annoying and rather unappealing.

In Rivoli mules, the problem with creasing is nearly non-existent. Even though the shoes develop some lines in the leather uppers, they are virtually imperceptible. This is thanks to the earlier mentioned fringe motif which covers a large part of the creasing and, consequently, makes the mules appear newer and neater. The leather itself may also play a significant factor. The leather in Princetowns feels somewhat smoother and softer than that in Rivolis, which may also be the reason why the wrinkles look more prominent.

The creasing of leather may not be such a big a deal to some. However, I thought it was worth flagging up to those of you concerned with that aspect. After all, whether Princetown or Rivoli, we are talking about very expensive footwear. Thus, it is understandable that anyone investing that much money in a pair of shoes would want them to stay perfect and presentable for as long as possible. [Back to Menu]

Hermes slip on shoes

Are they a good investment?

Hermes Rivoli mules are comfortable, elegant and beautifully crafted. As far as the design goes, they cannot be faulted. They will be the perfect choice for everyone looking for a pair of smart, quality and timeless mules. They will also appeal to those who view high-end shoes as a long-term investment which can be enjoyed for many seasons.

The one clear downside of Hermes Rivolis is the price. For mules, even of the luxury variety, they are a vastly expensive option. At the time of writing, a pair of Hermes Rivolis costs £860 in the UK (as of 2020). By comparison, Gucci Princetown mules will set you back £530. That is over 40% less that the Hermes equivalent. The difference is so significant that it is getting close to the price of a brand-new pair of shoes, for instance the Ferragamo flower heel mule, currently retailing at £445. Is the disparity in pricing between the Princetown and the Rivoli mule reflecting the difference in quality or enjoyment of the shoes? I am not so sure about that.

However, it is a well-known fact that the price of Hermes’ products is the projection of the brand’s élite status rather than a true reflection of their value. Perversely, the exclusivity factor conveyed through prohibitive pricing is precisely the reason why so many people aspire to purchase luxury items from the brand. And thus, the house of Hermes continues charging outrageous amounts in a completely unabashed manner, knowing full well that there will always be demand for their high-end goods. Mad as it sounds, the tactic seems to work. What makes matters worse, even those who see through the smart marketing strategy frequently cannot resist another piece of Hermes luxury.

Are Hermes Rivoli mules worth it? They may not constitute the best value for money in strictly financial terms. After all, there are cheaper equivalents on the market of equally high quality. However, if you perceive this prestigious brand itself as an investment, and do not object to paying extra for an item precisely because it comes from Hermes, you will not be disappointed. The craftsmanship of the mules is truly stunning. On top of that, the bold “H” logo affixed to the leather uppers is an unequivocal cue that the shoes originate from one of the most exclusive fashion houses in the world. In addition, the fact that the mules are very much in the unaffordable category means they are quite rare, unlike the Princetown mules which have become very popular and can be seen everywhere. It is hard not to fall in love with Rivoli mules but this love comes at a hefty price.  For that, my verdict is: An epitome of luxury for a true Hermes believer.

[Back to Menu]

Photos by Unwrapped.Fashion

© Copyright Unwrapped.Fashion (2020) All Rights Reserved