A couple of days ago, MoMu invited renowned Parisian shoe designer Pierre Hardy to join us for a breakfast talk. Surrounded by people intrigued by the designer, Pierre had a little chat with us about his life as a shoe designer. Having worked for Balenciaga and Hermès, you can say that Pierre Hardy knows a thing or two about the fashion industry. MoMu took the opportunity to ask Pierre a few questions:
You’ve been in the fashion world for two decades now. But you said that fashion is not modern anymore?
No , not modern anymore but not modern enough. For the public, fashion needs to be avant-garde and ahead of its time but I don’t think that fashion is ahead nowadays. There are a lot of recreations and imitations. In the past, designers were more inventive.
During your time at Balenciaga, you’ve designed the Lego heel. It was very popular because Beyoncé wore it but it seemed very different from what you usually design?
Was it a bit too much? I don’t think people nowadays are ready to wear them in their everyday life. It’s too different. People like fun, sexy and glamorous shoes but not adventurous shoes.
You started your men’s collection in 2006. Was it because you wanted to make men’s shoes for yourself?
Something like that. I couldn’t find shoes for myself. When I design my men’s collections, I think of myself. It’s kind of selfish. It’s very different from what I’ve been designing for women.
You were a former dancer and studied art. You started as a fashion illustrator. Do you find it important to draw you collection first?
It is very important. Drawing for me is the quickest, easiest and most genuine way to start designing a collection. It allows me to visualize the collection and it also serves as a verification for an idea, to see if it works or not.
Where do you find your inspiration?
It could be everything from colors to museums to building. It’s a chemistry. I cannot explain when, why or what. It’s like falling in love with someone. In a way you can analyze it but you have no idea when it will come to you. Inspiration is a combination of all the things you love, you come across or things that stimulates you.
You work a lot with color blocks but not with prints?
I don’t know why. I don’t like prints. It’s problematic, busy and disturbing. I love clear lines, plain volumes. I try to create a composition with different parts. In the last collection there was a strong print with a paintbrush. It was very graphic. I’m learning it. Same thing with color. I didn’t like color at first. Everything was black and white, preferably all black. Step by step I learned how to use it. Same thing with prints, I need to learn how to do it my way. It takes time.
What is your secret for the perfect pair of heels?
As a designer it is a question of the structure and the balance between the volume of the feet. My work is based on this. If you ask me as a man looking at women, It’s another story. Shoes help people to be themselves. It makes you better. It can make you look stronger, more confident and sexier. Shoes make you better.
Your shoes are featured in our FootPrint exhibition. Why do people have to visit FootPrint?
The exhibition is very well curated. The organization, the stories, the lighting are well done. Sometimes it’s about the designer or the stories but it’s interesting that in FootPrint it is about the designer and the stories and not one or the other. It’s a perspective of shoes. Also FootPrint does not look at shoes as fashion accessories but as objects of creation. You see all these different types of inspirations and suddenly put together. It’s cleverly done and visually very interesting.
Special thanks to design gallery Valerie Traan and Hotel Julien!
Interview by Christin Ho