Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Shopaholics EXCLUSIVE ... Jerome C Rousseau

Ladies, do you remember the article on those dainty retro-styled shoes by Jerome C Rousseau that I posted several weeks ago?

Well people, exclusively to this blog and perhaps in the entire Asia and Malaysia, I managed to get the designer himself away from his hectic life as a celebrity shoemaker and talk to me (via email s'il vous plait!) about sho
emaking and the inspiration behind those lovely Dragon heels (this season's key shoe that every shoe lover should own!).

So darlings, what are you waiting, go on and check it out! By the way, Jerome C Rousseau's fall/winter 2008 collection is on sale now at Shuz KLCC.

How do you know that someday you would be a shoe designer?
It’s not something that I knew, but something that gradually happened. As a young teenager, I came across a band called Deee-Lite, and I was drawn to their spe
ctacular presentation. They were wearing some wild footwear and I started drawing these shoes in art classes.

Drawing shoes gradually became something I wanted to do all the time, and after researching the history of shoes it
evolved into a strong passion. I spent my high school years investigating how I could get the right skills to do it as a profession, and I chose to study at Cordwainers College in London, which turned out to be the start of a brilliant journey for me.

How often did you take your mother’s shoes and use them as muse for your shoe drawings back then?

Emm, I don’t remember doing that at all! The muse for my first sketches were shoes I’d find in vintage stores, or on history books, re
cord covers and videoclips. Music has always played a big part of my influences and it continues to do so. I find many parallels between music and design.

Is there a specific figure from the (shoemaking) industry that you looked up to as your mentor or driving force?

The shoes worn by the members of Deee-Lite were designed by John Fluevog, a Canadian designer. John was my first shoe design hero and his work at that time influenced me to choose this career. Back in the 90’s, I had the chance to work with John before moving to London, it was an inspiring experience. A shoe designer that has taught me a lot about creativity is Andre Perugia. I am very fond of the silhouettes he created, and how he channelled his creativity into wearable and stunning footwear.

When you first market your debut collection, what kind of response did you received from the shoe-mad crowd?

The response has been very strong. It is an incredible amount of work to launch a successful shoe collection and it’s easy to get carried away and not realise whether you are doing well or not. The first collection was picked up by great retailers, and is also selling
very well in stores. I receive daily emails from new fans of the collection! I think the shoe-mad crowd (as you call it) loved the silhouettes and colours of the debut collection, as well as the overall theme.

I see lots of retro elements in your latest fall/winter collection such as the colours and styles. Why?
For the Fall 08 collection, I was mostly inspired by two different things. The first is the work of Ukrainian artist Kazimir Malevich, particularly his usage of geometry and colours in the 1920’s. I also took reference to the film “The eyes of Laura Mars” from 1978, and its combination of late
70’s glamour and danger.

I guess with these influences, there are some retro elements that filtered th
rough to the collection. However, my intention was not to create a retro collection, but most definitely to take these influences and create something modern and distinctive.

Your ‘Dragon’ heels captured the most of my attention from the rest of the FW08 line. Why did you name it ‘Dragon’ and what is the story behind it?

For the Fall 08 collection, I named the shoes after stars and constellations. Dragon seemed a fitted name for this flamboyant pump. I think you can see the Malevich influence in t
his style, through the geometry of the lines and the colour blocking.

Besides designing shoes, have you ever thought of including maybe an accessory line to complement that heavenly footwear line of yours?

Thank you for your lovely compliment! Eventually it is something I will consider, but the label is still very young and I prefer to focus on one thing at the moment. I would also love to do a collection of mens shoes at some point.

You are based in Los Angeles, so brushing shoulders with celebrities should be part of your work routine. So far, who have proclaimed their allegiance as a devo
ted fan of your shoes?

It’s definitely not a part of my work routine, but there are plenty of celebrities around. I have just received the first season’s shoes and will be sending them to my favourite celebrities shortly, so it’s too early to kiss and tell!

And talking about celebrities, of late there has been a sort of influx on celebrity shoe labels. Do you think this is good for premium designer footwear industry or vice versa and why?

I don’t take much notice, to be honest. I am not be interested in buying from celebrity labels – I have too much appreciation and understanding of the craft that goes behind strong designers. In terms of the luxury customers, they are clearly responding to niche shoe designers. They recognize the skills in the design and the craftsmanship process. The customers are very educated at this price point, and I don’t think are easily fooled by a celebrity name on a shoe. It’s a different customer in my opinion.

Last but not least, what are you up to in the future? Will there be a flagship Jerome C Rousseau store in the heart of Rodeo Drive soon?

My priority is to continue to present exciting and innovative collections every new season. I’m all about the design! I’d love to collaborate with my favourite artists and designers, and evolve the collection with different product categories. The flagship Jerome C Rousseau store is most definitely some years away, and I’d rather have it in London or Paris than Rodeo Drive! Or Kuala Lumpur?!

*Photos courtesy of Jerome C Rousseau

Jerome C Rousseau at Shuz - First Floor, Suria KLCC, Jalan Ampang, 50088 Kuala Lumpur.

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