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John Lobb’s New Woman: Paula Gerbase on the Label’s Rich History

When Paula Gerbase joined John Lobb last June, she set out on an unexpected journey. The creative director was determined to walk in the namesake’s shoes, literally.

In 1851, at age 22, Lobb left his home in rural Cornwall, England, and walked to London in his own handmade boots. Gerbase took that same path 163 years later.

“What’s most exciting is when you realize that an icon is human…and came from humble beginnings,” Gerbase said, during a meet-and-greet with us in London today.

What attracted Gerbase to the heritage brand?

“Quality is hard to find these days. Everyone talks about luxury, but quality is a much more important value. And a respect for the customer has always been a value of mine [with 1205, my own brand].”

John Lobb, owned by Hermès, has a rich archive in Paris, and Gerbase has been studying it closely. She travels there on a weekly basis in between trips to the label’s factory in Northampton, England.

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“What probably surprised me most about the bespoke archive is the amount of sportswear in it: the tennis shoes from the 1920s, the walking boots and the ski boots from the ’40s. And how much movement there was in this company that maybe hasn’t been talked about or even discovered. That was really exciting.”

Gerbase’s fall ’14 collection celebrates John Lobb’s core values. Contrasting tones and textures are a highlight throughout the collection, and seamless whole-cut patterns are also key on the silhouettes.

Stay tuned for images of the shoes and more from Gerbase on her vision for the brand.

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