Founder and designer interview
1. Our theme of this interview is there is nothing important than shoes in men’s accessories. Do you think it is true?
Absolutely true. Choosing the right footwear is crucial. It determines both the approach and the messages we want to pass on.
There’s a theory that I strongly believe in; which is that- we define the silhouette of a man by two things. The top and bottom - Hairdressing and shoe are the endings of masculine styles. A good free and vigorous hair and a stylish footwear are the only defining things.
2. You had amazing career as shoe designer, working for shoe brands such as Christian Louboutin, Pierre Hardy, and also amazing fashion house like Oscar de la Renta. Were you designing men’s or women’s shoes?
I have designed mainly women’s shoes; but what’s funny is that I have drawn all the different kinds of shoes- be it sneakers, or sneakers via strassée mule gold embroidered slippers or something else. I recollect how much fun it was to draw the shoes, imagining the person who would wear them!
Essentially, I started drawing men’s shoes at Pierre Hardy. What I understood then, was how difficult men could be while choosing a particular pair of shoes! And, how they could put a lot of time to choose a shade of beige!
So, I take designing shoes for men more like an interesting challenge and an experiment from which there is a learning curve at every point.
3. Why did you start “only" men’s shoe brand? In terms of business, I guess it will be easier if you do women’s or both.
Beyond a creation for a man or a woman, I wanted to create a product that sustains; something that’s timeless and unique. Humans have a thing not much for trend, but for timelessness; and I wanted to contribute something in that sense.
For me, it is more about style than just fashion. Jacques Solovière shoes are not just for a consumer that wants them as a trend, but to a connoisseur who looks into and appreciates the intricate detailing and the story behind the brand. So, when we create shoes for men, I believe a desire is evoked in women as well; and this desire can easily be converted into a business opportunity, which is what we are figuring out at Jacques Solovière now. All the Jacques Solovière shoes are also available in women’s sizes. Jacques Solovière finesses to create for female models as well; because I believe that there are still many more things to do for women which are not in the market yet.
4. What is your design aesthetic?
If you see Jacques Solovière’s classic shoe- the MATTHIEU, it defines the vision of the brand. The design aesthetic is to define the “style of life”; something which is indefinably chic, timeless and classic!
5. You were born and raised in Paris. Please tell us what kind of change has been happening in Parisian’s footwear, compared to when you were young. A lot of people must start wearing sneakers.... and what do you think about this evolution?
In France, the press is calling it "adulescent" a mixture of adults and teenagers. Right now there is this very regressive Stan Smith fashion going on and everyone is wearing it! There are sneakers everywhere, which is not-so-Parisian! Paris is like an indolent and eternal teenager at this point.
Me, I have seen a completely different version of Paris; and it is my dream to see it again- more Parisian Bohemian era- where people read books in the park wearing rubber soles gold suede shoes!
6. I heard Jacques Solovière is inspired by your grandfather. What kind of man was he? What kind of shoes he wore in each occasion?
Jacques Solovière was named after my grandfather in an earnest tribute to his natural-born sense of style. My grandfather was a kind of Don Draper in Mad Men. He wore many slipper and indoor suits to walk on the carpet in his living room; surrounded by lacquered furniture designs.
7. Do you think the saying “Shoe can tell about the person?” is true?
As a psychic in a crystal ball, I happen to guess someone's personality just by looking at his/her shoes (haha). For me, Shoes are a window for a person’s style; wear a wrong one and you portray a totally unpleasant message! For me, it defines a person.
8. What do you think new rules for men’s footwear?
Thin soles, colors and good taste are my new rules. In a word- minimalism; as opposed to the running shoes available in the market today with its thick sole, glossy and cheap leather and very vague prints.
There is absolutely no need for a shoe to be huge to portray that it is designed for a man!
9. And what do you think the eternal rules for men’s footwear?
For me, the rules are pretty simple and straightforward- No logo just real craft! I think, in general, a shoe should not issue a message of luxury and ostentatious gold logo; Jacques Solovière shoes are an evidence.
10. Among men’s dress, there are two styles, “dress-up" and “dress-down”, please tell me your definitions of both styles.
When I think of dress- up, I think of someone who would go to watch an Opera in the evening- someone who likes to be elegant, someone who will wear polished classy shoes. And, dress-down would be someone who is more casual and comfortable in a low-tech style. Personally, I am more comfortable with this idea of dress-down and low-key style.
11. Can espadrilles be elegant? Can sneakers be elegant? Please answer how they can be elegant.
I love the espadrille because it corresponds to one of the most beautiful regions of France - the Basque coast, where my family and I spend all our summers. The Basques are very worthy people, and elegant proudly claiming their culture. The espadrille is part of their ancestral knowledge, and are still produced there by hand in small family workshops. From the standpoint of design, it is minimal and uses two magnificent natural materials: linen and jute. I therefore find it very elegant in its original condition; as contrary to espadrille that can be seen sometimes in the market with studs and leopard prints!
This season we have developed a line of sneakers in raw materials- with rough linen and lace with durable finishes. The sneaker has to be classic but not necessarily smart. I think it must be without decoration, and monochrome. I love the Jacques Solovière sneakers because it has the appearance of a classic tennis grained white leather, a bit 80's, but if you watch closely, it is totally different from the one that we find in the market.
12. What are the essentials to be elegant footwear?
The truth is that for men there only two options: bad taste and good taste in shoes. It is the reason why the majority of men do not like taking risk in matters of shoes. I would advise to opt for a leather shoe, moccasin or lace - up, preferably with an oval shape, and soft forms without exaggeration and with calf leather. The shoe-color could be natural as a beige or brown, or classic as a black or navy.
13. What was the most sexiest/elegant feet you saw recently?
It is the foot of my assistant – Christian Trésor. I tried to develop a new technology for Jacques Solovière’s men’s shoes for the upcoming season and when I received those prototypes, I made him try them on. The result was so amazing and beautiful and inexpressible in words! You will see it soon..
14. Who is your male muse? Please send me the name. (or photos)
Recently I have been inspired by Nicolas de Stael.
15. What are the advents of being women shoe designer?
In a word- freedom! Just as designers like Louboutin or Pierre Hardy who design for women; keeping in mind a female model; I draw fantasizing the ideal man. For me- it is more intellectual, elegant, sensitive and well-fitted.