After over a decade working as a shoe designer for brands like Christian Louboutin, Sonia Rykiel, Zac Posen, and studying under Pierre Hardy, Marie Laffont launched her eponymous label for Spring/Summer 2020. The collection debuted at New York Fashion Week in a show with Andre Walker, an official launch at Almine Rech gallery, and a pop up at Art Basel in Miami Beach.
The designer has continued to blend fashion and art, collaborating recently with artist Morgane Tschiember on a limited-edition of 50 pairs. The shoes feature Laffont’s signature studs, a blue velukid suede tongue and toe, black nappa leather, and a folded back rose velukid suede accent.
Whitewall caught up with Laffont and Tschiember to learn more about their creative partnership.
WHITEWALL: How do you view shoes in relation to art?
MORGANE TSCHIEMBER: To me, art should be everywhere. It’s a way of thinking, an attitude, a way of life.
MARIE LAFFONT: Both allow a form of escapism; art as a mental escape and shoes a physical one, from the monotony of everyday life.
WW: You both have a background in sculpture. Would you say this served as inspiration, or helped with the design and construction of shoes?
MT: My sculptural practice infuses many fields, fashion design but also furniture design, and many others. The pair of shoes I did with Marie was inspired by my series of sculptures, Iron Maiden.
ML: I see the shoes themselves as sculptures. For many women, a specific, special pair of shoes can be a good luck charm, a talisman of sorts. This makes me think of fetish objects—those believed to have a magical quality.
WW: Do you think that shoes can affect the way you think and feel?
MT: Shoes are like a haircut. They define your style, your character, your mood, your personality.
ML: I believe that shoes can influence your mood. A pair that you like for example, can make you feel stronger, or bolder, or sexier. You can’t quite pinpoint why, it just is—you just know you need to wear that pair at that particular moment, whether it’s a boot for a job interview, a stiletto for a date or pair of sneakers for a long day. The challenge for this collection was to make shoes that were both aesthetically interesting and, equally as important, comfortable.
WW: What is the shoe’s relationship to the body, for you?
MT: My father is an osteopath, so obviously as a child I had good pairs of shoes. Feet are the basis of your body’s architecture. Thus, shoes can change the position of your pelvis, your knees, and of course, your back. Shoes structure and influence your body; they’re like an extension of the body.
ML: As Morgane said, the shoe is important because it determines the balance and the movement of the body. It defines how you walk, and your gait is part of your allure. I think a flat shoe can, at times, be even more elegant than a stiletto, because it allows for balance in the body, a strong gait.
WW: What discoveries did you make during the process of designing the shoes?
MT: It was like having a magic wand and turning a pumpkin into the Cinderella carriage.
ML: I learned the challenge of transforming something impossible—an idea—into something tangible and wearable. It was kind of like making something magic realistic. I like the challenge of working with an idea or a piece of art, for example, and turning it into something both visual appealing and functional. I became absorbed by the shoes and bringing them to life in the same way I can become absorbed in a piece of art.
WW: What is the importance of freedom and movement to you?
MT: There is an expression in French, “être biendans ses baskets,” which translates to, “being happy in your sneakers,” which is to say that you’re happy and feeling good in yourself. I think good shoes allow you freedom of movement, and in turn, you feel more comfortable with yourself.
ML: With good shoes you are able to move around 24 hours a day and go any and everywhere, without any fuss. Sometimes you discover new places and people. It’s really important to be free in your movements, to be free to wander and explore.