I think it's time for Pierre Hardy to make it to a much higher level. Within ten years, Pierre Hardy has built his namesake brand quietly. His designs are popular in Paris, Japan and Hong Kong. His styles are quirky, eccentric, at the same time, they are futuristic, bold yet referenced, with lotsa of intriging details. Why now though? Simply because we are experiencing a "fashion" period, ie. designers are doing non-mix&match-able outfit / head to toe look, e.g.: Stefano Pilati's YSL Dada pumps or Lanvin's wood-made killer heels just do not go well with any other brands, whereas shoe designers' creations are there to accentuate the wearer and "the look". Furthermore, Pierre's sensibility fits so well with this coming fall's surreal, abstract feeling. That's why I think he deserves more noise.
SPOV: moi / PH: Pierre Hardy
SPOV: Your designs are very intrigued, surreal and beyond fashion, what is shoe designing to you?
PH: Each season it is like reinventing a “new little shape”, that will be a heel, a platform... To make a new shoe. The space for creation is very small!... And that is what I like.
SPOV: A famous retailer in Paris once told me that Pierre Hardy’s shoes are very modern, graphic and cool, how would you describe your own design in general?
PH: I try to make it as powerful, clear and sensual as possible.
SPOV: Where do you draw inspiration? And what are your normal procedures when designing? Do you always draft a sketch first?
PH: Yes the first step is quite always a drawing, first because most of my ideas come from drawing, secondly if I got an idea “in mind”, I first try to give it a shape into a drawing. “inspiration” by itself is much more like a surrounding, it always comes from outside fashion....
SPOV: People are obsessed about French fashion again in the last few seasons in particular, and people go crazy about yours, Louboutin and Vivier by Frisoni, what makes French shoe designing different in your opinion?
PH: May be it is a “specific –French sense” of sexiness combined with modernity and classic feeling ?
SPOV: What is your idea of French style? Would you consider your design très French?
PH: I do think that, in a way (and there is many different way to be French !). I got a French taste for some kind of things like : provocation plus classicism, simplicity plus strange colors... And other paradoxes that maybe make the “ French spririt”.
SPOV: We are lucky to have your design in Hong Kong quite early on back to 90s, and it’s obvious that your business booms dramatically this year, in the US especially, is it a business strategy that you have or you just play along with your gut instinct?
PH: If it is a strategy, it is a spontaneous one . But it is true that US are very curious and responding with my collections.
SPOV: How did you get start with cooperating with Hermes? Is it difficult to design for a house like Hermes? What does Hermes stand to you?
PH: I started 15 years ago for Hermes and at that time, the shoe collection was very young; Almost nothing. What has been exciting, was to build a whole “department” inside the House. Working for Hermes is both simple and difficult : simple because you are not “alone”, and there are many subjects of inspiration; difficult because I have to integrate many restrains in terms of quality level (craft, materials...) and in term of respect of the “history”.... But that make me going forward !
SPOV: You are doing the jewelry for them too, are you trained for that? Jewelry is something normally associated with luxury, what’s your concept?
PH: I think that Jean Louis Dumas asked me to do jewelry because he thought that the “way” I was doing shoes could be transferred into jewlery. Probably it is my approach to jewlery, that is not the one of a proper “jewelers” that interested him. After that, luxury has many different shades. The question is to find the right one for Hermès.
SPOV: What’s the main concern when designing for Balenciaga? Do you design shoes for Balenciaga men too? How do you draw the line between Balenciaga and your own collection?
PH: First of all, it is a collaboration whit Nicolas G.. My work with him is more like a tennis game. I try to bring him my “expertise” in shoes. Also for Balenciaga I have to have in mind an already done silhouette: clothes are the first, shoes come after. It is very different when I work for myself. I am” just” doing shoes and they has to fit many different kind of girls and clothes, but I hope that they will rule all the silhouettes !
SPOV: We see a lot more low key, classic designs done by you for Pierre Hardy men, why?
PH: I don’t like fantasy shoes for man. I love “ standards”, but I try to make them modern and new, changing the colors and the materials, or slightly the line or the proportions.
SPOV: Talking about men’s design, you renew those simple lace-up booties in different materials and colors, season after season, you like that design very much apparently, why so? Some would say the inspiration is from Clarks’ “Wannabe” style, is that true? How did you create those booties at the beginning?
PH: It is a Avery easy going standard shoes ! In between a classic derby shoe and a sneaker. You can wear them in many different moments, no season... Also it is a shoe with no age : boy or man time.
SPOV: Is there anyone you really admire in the shoe business?PH: I love Beth Levin and Perruggia.SPOV: Manolo Blahnik recently said Balenciaga (by Nicolas Ghesquiere) makes great clothes, but their shoes look like furniture. Do you care about other people’s opinions?
SPOV: Would you call yourself a shoe designer or a cobbler?
PH: “Designer”. It could be something else other than shoes !
SPOV: I saw you once at Dior Homme on Ave. Montaigne, busy trying things on, can you describe me your personal style a little? I know you wear both Balenciaga and Dior Homme.
PH: I try to combine. I don’t like total looks. I also mix Prada, Martin Margiela, vintage... A balance between classic and “ négligé”
SPOV: Can you talk about the new Pierre Hardy handbag collection? What inspire you so? Are you still working for Sequoia?
PH: Bag design is very different from sheos design. I didn’t wanted to make a “box”, or a hard ware bag ! I tried to make it as light, supple, and sensual as possible, but also graphic and “clean”.
SPOV: What are you reading and listening to these days?
PH: books :Dan de lilo : Cosmopolis. Stephan Sweig : Marie AntoinetteHouelbecq :”possibilité d’une cité. ”Music Nick Drake, stone roses, Kelis, akon, 50 cent , Roberta Flack, Gainsbourg, Charles Aznavour.
SPOV: What parfum do you wear?
PH: Pour un Homme de Caron and Jicky de Guerlain.