Roland Mouret, the newly appointed creative director of Robert Clergerie, talks shoes, pain and lovers...
Roland Mouret, the newly appointed creative director of Robert Clergerie, talks to Marie Claire about shoes, pain and lovers.
As I make my way to the private shopping section in Selfridges to meet with the newly appointed creative director of Robert Clergerie, I pass through the French footwear’s boutique nestled amongst the vast landscape that is the Selfridges’ shoe galleries. It’s a space that grabs your attention, making you stop, stare and, if the ringing tills are anything to go by, shop.
With a slick black and white backdrop housing a large portrait of Mouret and Clergerie, and the shoes and bags cleverly displayed on graphic cut-out shelving, it’s got a cool almost exhibition like feel. These cool vibes reflect the debut collection – think edgy gold and white brogues, sexy over-the-knee boots and bold coloured chunky heels.
As the charming Mouret explains over tea (English breakfast with a dash of milk, just so you know) he is thrilled to be back, having originally worked with Robert himself on the advertising side of the company over 25 years ago: ‘I was so honoured to be given this position. ‘It’s that notion of legacy. I saw it with my dad when he wanted me to be a butcher, he wanted to give me something he had taken his life to build up. Robert put my name forward for the role because he wanted someone who could give a new fashion message to the brand alongside its legacy.’
Of course, we are all familiar with Mouret’s own legendary fashion message. Thanks to his creation of the Galaxy dress, women worldwide have been praising and giving thanks to him for the ultimate fashion gift – a dress that is utterly sexy, flattering and fashionable all at the same time. Just think of all those wow red carpet moments – from Scarlett Johansson to Cameron Diaz.
After only a few minutes of conversation, it’s clear he is equally as passionate about shoes as he is about his renowned sculptural dresses: ‘I’m loving learning the techniques, it’s a kind of like mathematics. I enjoy things that frustrate me, because there is a moment in life when you don’t know it frustrates you and you just want to absorb it and make it yours and I really enjoy the journey of that.’
One part of this shoe puzzle that Mouret has particularly enjoyed solving is the concept of pain: ‘I want it to be a pleasure to wear them, that’s it. We have enough pain in the world. We shouldn’t have to accept it in our shoes too.’
Revealing that Clergerie was originally inspired by revolutionary times such as the Parisian student protests in the 1970s, he has stuck to this similar synthesis:
‘It was a period where a woman had to be able to defend herself. It’s something in the DNA of the brand. Robert loved the fact that women shouldn’t be in pain.’
So how has Mouret achieved it in his debut collection? ‘You have to play around with angles and the weight of the body like using a platform inside the shoe.’
With a growing fan base, including Florence Welch who was spotted in the ‘Harum’, and Alexa Chung, who was snapped in the ‘Kissmi,’ it’s evident he’s on to a winning formula. As Mouret explains, there is no typical Robert Clergerie woman:
‘There are our devout customers and then there are the new girls. I really enjoy the double customer, because I have never been someone who likes to focus on just one person. I feel women are fantastic because they are so in contradiction all the time. They say, ‘yeah I love black but I’m going to wear white!’ And that’s what I love about the brand, we bring them a shoe but from a French point of view combined with that unique British fashion eye.’
Another way that Mouret is ensuring that all eyes are on the brand is through clever collaborations with hot new designer names such as Louise Gray. For her SS/13 show she took the house’s heritage brogue and gave them her own colourful makeover, a result which Mouret was delighted with:
‘She gave an amazing interpretation of Clergerie on the catwalk. The shoes were so intricate to the outfit, like a story that started from the feet. I loved how in one show, she gave a new dimension to the brand.’
For Mouret, working with up-and-coming talent is an experience he treasures. ‘I love to see what the future is. It’s so nice to be able to pass on something and not to keep it for yourself… to spot someone who needs something and to say ‘you know what? I can help.’ Maybe it’s because I had to wait for so many years to grow so if I can help someone I help.’
Earlier this year a survey found that the average British woman possesses 271 pairs of shoes and Mouret has his own unique theory about why women are obsessed with dressing their feet. ‘I see women using shoes like lovers they never had. If they had 300 pairs of shoes they wouldn’t be judged badly but 300 lovers… maybe they will have a reputation.’
He continues: ‘A dress just on a hanger is not really nice, you need to have it on the body, but a pair of shoes, you leave them on the table and they become something else. It’s so erotic.’
The French designer reveals he also gets the emotional attachment that women have with their shoes: ‘You look at them with memories and all the good things and bad things that happened in them. Shoes go from the more respectable to the walk of shame. That’s the beauty of them. They are like private confidantes.’
So what are his hopes for his newly launched confidantes? ‘In the eighties when you saw a woman in a pair of Robert Clergerie shoes people used to say ‘wow she’s got a pair of ‘Clerges.’ That’s what I’m doing, bringing back that expression.’
The Robert Clergerie boutique is located in the Shoe Galleries of Selfridges. In addition to key shoe and bag styles from the AW/12 collection, there are 17 styles only available at Selfridges, including four styles from the Resort collection.