Vanessa Carlton once said that she’d walk a thousand miles just to see her love tonight and while that’s lovely and romantic, you’ve got to wonder what kind of shoes would hold up to that trek? The right footwear goes a long way and, as much as we obsess over the gorgeous gown and perfectly draped garments that float down fashion runways or sashay down city streets, how often do we consider the perfect shoe?
That’s the question that has shaped Frédéric Robert’s design philosophy. The young designer has walked through the work rooms of everyone from Dior and Kenzo to Lanvin and Hermes but, for his next journey, he decided to walk a mile in his own shoes with the launch of Me.Land.
For his footwear debut, Robert harnessed the extensive knowledge he gained under the fashion giants and brought his heart and sole into designing the perfect shoe as he walked the streets of Montmartre, Paris.
Ahead of his launch presentation at the Plan 8 showroom in Paris this Friday, we caught up with the designer to talk about bringing his identity to the brand, good men with rebel hearts, and his homoerotic FW18 campaign images.
OUT: If we could walk a mile in your shoes, what would we find?
Frédéric Robert: Being chauvinistic, I would say the amazing comfort of the shoes I’m wearing, but I’m sure you’ll also discover that you will make people happy. Don’t laugh, but when you are happy with your look and when you feel good in your shoes, you feel strong and confident. You smile. With this attitude, you make people happy around you.
Why footwear, as opposed to working in menswear or womenswear?
Footwear is made for crazy people! That’s what an old craftsman told me one day. He might’ve been right then, too. I might be crazy. [Laughs] I’ve always worked in the men’s fashion field—especially on the leather accessories. From shoes to bags and small leather goods and for large companies such as Kenzo, Lanvin, Hermes and Dior. I’ve learnt a lot from them about fashion, but I’ve chosen to pursue footwear because it became obvious to me that, in the market, there’s an empty field.
Today you can find two strong trends in footwear. The first big one is the sports trend, while the second one is more formal-orientated shoes. Both of these trends don’t speak to me. I am a serious looking guy with a casual and comfortable spirit. I wanted to offer what I could not find in the market—something chic, Parisian and comfortable using my experience and knowledge.
How did you bring your own identity into the design?
I am a simple man who loves well-made items, but with a twist. I believe the collection reflects that. The styles are simple, but use rich and twisted materials and colors. This gives them a chic, elegant and stylish spirit. Exactly like Montmartre in Paris—a village with a free spirit inside a conventional, international city.
I’ve also always been fascinated by men who were able to express their own identity with their look. I particularly think about the British Teddy Boys who were able to fight against the establishment with a rebellious attitude. I like this idea of being a good man with a rebel heart.
The campaign has a very homoerotic, gym locker vibe. Was that intentional?
It wasn’t intentional, but I’m very happy if you felt that. I wanted to offer a strong, colorful and dynamic campaign for the launch of this collection. For me, dynamism is an action coming from the body—the tension in the muscles gives the energy I embraced with the project. To express the mix of the inspirations with this collection, I thought that by contrasting sport socks with chic and elegant shoes, the colors would express the joy and gay Montmartre spirit.
Photography: Gilles Crampes