For the 35th anniversary of Robert Clergerie, the French footwear brand has unveiled an onslaught of new versions of the maison’s tried-and-true Roel laceups in lively new mashups. The special collection will be available at Clergerie stores in New York and Los Angeles in November, with each sturdy, made-to-order, Goodyear-stitched style customized with initials.
To help fete the project, a cast of celebrities (including Tilda Swinton, Gigi Hadid and Kendall Jenner) was asked to pick their favorite colorway. Footwear News caught up with creative director Roland Mouret to learn more about these women of influence and how he suggests wearing brogues today.
Why do you think the Roel was due for a revamp?
“Actually, it was not due for a revamp. It is so great and timeless that it works in limitless versions. So with the team, we imagined 35 cool versions to celebrate the 35th birthday of the brand.”
What is it about the style that makes it still very relevant today?
“When launched, derbies for women were avant-garde — 1981 was a turning point in the liberation of the way women dressed and expressed themselves, and wearing different shoes than usual was part of that. The Roel style has a thick leather sole and is super-well-fitting, owing to its internal arch support and the roomy last. The look is classic and edgy at the same time. The wingtip brogue detail enhances the look and ties it to the immense archives we have back to 1900 of men’s shoes. The style is more relevant today than ever, as women are dressing in a totally free way — even evening dresses with derbies are a great form of self-expression and comfort. Also, shoes have become a more daring statement accessory so colorful and unusual versions of this classic style make it also more relevant.”
How did you approach the design?
“We catered to daring and more traditional women with the wildest version in yellow welt with the upper in pink and white leopard print, and more calm versions with metallic snakeskin and matching color leather.
Do you have a favorite?
“Ahh, you ask me to choose only one — not possible. I like the one chosen by my friend Karlie Kloss (No.1 12), a mix of geometric black and white designs and classic cognac. I also like the craziest version in yellow, black and pink leopard pony chosen by Rihanna and Selena Gomez, and finally, one that is all-black with fur on the upper, chosen by Tilda Swinton, Suki Waterhouse, Kendall Jenner and Blanc Suarez.”
What do you think is the modern way to wear the Roel now?
“Today it is all about what makes a woman feel good. Shoes contribute a great deal to that. The Roel is flat yet cool, and it taps into the masculine/feminine way of dressing. I can see it worn with a longer skirt or dress as with wide or narrow trousers. A colorful version can also dress an all-black [or neutral] outfit.”
What new style from the latest collection do you think will stand the test of time in 35 years?
“There are 2 types of Clergerie styles that are iconic and are sure to stand the test of time. The masculine shoes [either flats or creepers] and platform wedges like our iconic Dylan style. We tweak these looks every year, yet they are tied to a real history and DNA of the brand.”