J. M. Weston unveils haute couture collection in refreshed Marais gallery boutique
J. M. Weston, the French shoe marque that is the very definition of Gallic preppy, has launched a haute couture footwear collection for women.
The brand’s creative director Olivier Saillard celebrated the new collection with the opening this week of a novel new exhibition entitled Souvenir d’un Défilé or Memory of a Fashion Show, inside Weston’s revamped airy boutique in the Marais.
Tailoring a brand’s concept to fit a city or neighborhood is a key part of smart contemporary retailing, one reason Saillard has reimagined the store, adding an exhibition space to the boutique, first opened in 2016 and located in a Paris quartier known for its multiple art galleries.
“I wanted a hybrid and cultural space for both our exhibitions and to retail our collections. Especially when everything is closed and everything is too virtual,” explained Saillard.
For this debut exhibition, Saillard invited a series of stars and editors to provide a complete looks from their wardrobe: from actresses like Charlotte Rampling and Tilda Swinton; to noted Paris editors and publishers - Tina Isaac, Elizabeth von Guttman, Nathalie Ours and Marie-Pierre Lannelongue.
Each ensemble perched on a foldable school chair, before a pair of couture Westons: for Rampling black classic loafers with a leather peony; for Swinton, brown suede moccasins finished with wooden twigs made of rawhide - all inspired by the Italian art movement, Arte Povera.
The exhibition also celebrates the 130th anniversary of the brand, while the couture footwear also opens up Weston to a more feminine audience.
“Couture has both an ecological and ego-logical meaning. To be measured the client has to physically walk to our stores, and because as it's made-to-measure we don’t have to create a whole huge stock,” joked Saillard.
All told, 18 possible handmade looks, priced from €1,900 to €3,900, each including natural elements – buds, peas or petals, all composed of leather.
Next up, Saillard plans a retrospective on the house and its origin in its Limoges, the ancient Gallo-Roman city in southwest central France, and hometown of Impressionist painter Pierre-Auguste Renoir.
“There is no point in having the same store in each city,” insists Saillard, who reinvented the brand’s Bordeaux store as an artist’s atelier, and plans significant changes in Japan, the brand’s largest foreign market.
Arguably, Europe’s single most influential curator of fashion retrospectives, and former director of the fashion museum Palais Galliera, Saillard does confess to missing his old job and admitted to musing on the idea of a Fashion Biennale in Paris.
“A bit like there is a Biennale of Art in Venice. But in a poetic form, where we stop associating fashion with money and luxury. Fashion should be about the poetry of clothing. We don’t talk enough about that intimate moment,” he sniffed.
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