Van Assche, Gehry Unveil Collaboration With J.M. Weston

NEW YORK — High-end French men’s shoe-maker J.M. Weston is joining the collaborative fray with a collection of one-offs from names such as Dior Homme creative head Kris Van Assche and architect Frank Gehry.

Their creations — as well as those from shoe designer Michel Perry, industrial designer Martin Szekely and gallerist Clemence Krzentowski — will make their North American debut at The Flag Art Foundation here today as the centerpiece of a traveling exhibit called, “Humeurs, an encounter between artists and artisans.”

Produced by J.M. Weston, “Humeurs,” which refers to the damp leather craftsmen use to make shoes, was commissioned to demonstrate the prowess and creative potential of the footwear maker’s craftsmen as well as highlight the brand’s new custom program. “The point is that it’s not only about designers making shoes, but the craftsmen behind them,” explained Alain Viot, J.M. Weston’s president. “We wanted to show what our workers could do.”

Given just one guideline — to respect Weston’s classic heritage — the artists produced varied and surprising results, perhaps none more so than the two pairs of boots Frank Gehry created in conjunction with his son Alejandro. “When working with a client, you have to make sure they are happy with what you produce,” Gehry said in an e-mail. “We created something new, but it has hints of an old classic.” The results were a function of gender too, he went on to say. “There is more room to lay with as far as women’s fashion is concerned. Men tend to have a difficult time being more outlandish.”

Van Assche put his spin on the black derby, complete with perforate toecap. Krzentowski, co-owner Kreo Contemporary Art Gallery in Paris, ditched the Old World for something a little more punk and glamorous: crystal-studded oxfords in black suede and leather ankle boots with riveted strap. Also on display at the exhibit, work from photographers Weston commissioned to “reinterpret” the one-off shoes. After The Flag Art Foundation, the collection will be temporarily housed at the J.M. Weston store in Manhattan.

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