How did you discover the Palais de la Porte Dorée? What is your relationship with it?
It was pretty normal for a neighborhood kid to go to the Palais de la Porte Dorée, as there was a Tropical Aquarium. My sisters accompanied me there on most weekends; I was fascinated by the shimmering colors and beautiful shades of the fish. Given that the Aquarium was located in the Palais de la Porte Dorée, I started to explore the place, which was also home to the Musée des Arts Africains et Océaniens. That was the beginning of infinite imaginary journeys, allowing me to travel, under one roof, across continents, and to discover distant lands and unknown tribes.
These journeys were always a great source of inspiration for you. What are your interests ?
There are actually two pleasures in travel: that of going to a place we know and appreciate, even if each visit is different, but also that of going to a country that we discover, and indulging in encounters and surprises. I like the unexpected, spontaneous and instinctive side of travel. For example, it was on an unannounced visit to one of his boutiques that I met the Indian designer Sabyasachi Mukherjee, who has since become a dear friend and created a piece for the exhibition. I like this approach to travel, as well as that of discovering cultures and skills that are still unknown to me. I also enjoy all the preparations, all the hours spent before the departure imagining and dreaming of one’s trip.
Can you tell us more about the title “The Exhibitionist” ?
It’s a title that came to me quite quickly. It’s a play on words between ‘exhibition ’in English, which means exhibiting, and the act of revealing a part of oneself to others. To expose oneself is to show oneself, to lay oneself bare. An exhibition is about displaying. Both concepts are therefore quite close, but there is a more subversive notion in exposing oneself that I like, because by exhibiting my work, I expose myself more intimately. I’ve invested a lot in this project, both professionally and personally; I reveal a great deal about myself, my inspirations, and my creative process in this exhibition, and I wanted this to be understood from the title of the exhibition.
Can you tell us more about how you met Olivier Gabet?
Olivier was commissioned by the Palais de la Porte Dorée to curate the exhibition. He is also the Deputy Director General of the Musée des Arts Décoratifs. We came to an immediate understanding. We have the same taste for decorative arts. I had seen him and knew him by reputation. It was very simple for me to establish a dialogue with someone like Olivier: open, cultured, and very at ease in building bridges between different aesthetic and sociological worlds, between fashion, architecture, craftsmanship, theater, …
This exhibition revisits nearly 30 years of creation. Is it a retrospective ?
I prefer the word celebration to that of retrospective; celebration is part of the present, the past and also the future, with its many surprises that I look forward to. I wanted to feature unique elements that punctuated my life and that are prevalent throughout my work. There are, inevitably, some key moments; yet beyond a purely chronological approach, I wanted to showcase these great inspirations, which are, among others, Bhutan, and exceptional workmanship
This exhibition does not position itself as a shoe exhibition. How did you envision it ?
To put on an exhibition exclusively dedicated to shoes would have been limiting. I wanted to take advantage of being in a place that was as dear to me as the Palais de la Porte Dorée, to be less literal in my approach and to show aspects of my work that the public is less familiar with. It’s an opportunity for me to emphasize the importance of drawing, to make the creative process visible while highlighting unique personalities and know-how. I imagined it as a journey through my inspirations, my encounters, my passions, which also allows me to step outside the framework of an exhibition that would be purely a fashion show.
This exhibition presents itself as an immersive experience, a journey into your imagination. Why did you choose this format rather than that of a standard exhibition?
There is always a playful aspect to my work; it’s something that is tied to my personality and to my way of seeing life. This exhibition is about my career, but also about my way of seeing the world. To bean “exhibitionist” is also to accept to reveal a part of oneself, and the only way to really do it is to immerse oneself and to want to share such simple feelings as joy and self-questioning. I had the idea of having a show that would reflect the place: both popular and high-caliber, two characteristics that are not mutually exclusive, as I know my work interests people outside the fashion world
There are very different inspirations in this exhibition. How did you make them co-exist ?
As easily as they co-exist in my work and in my life. It is, above all, a question of curiosity, and of my interest in different cultures and the people who bring them to life. I work often by combining materials, colors, inspirations, and know-how; I like the idea that everything comes together to create something new. The same is true for this exhibition
How long have you been conceiving this exhibition?
My last exhibition was in2012. It took place in London and marked our 20th anniversary. “The Exhibitionist” was not born of a particular desire on my part to have an exhibition, but rather of a meeting with the team at the Palais de la Porte Dorée as part of supporting the building’s restauration . There was an immediate chemistry between our teams, and they invited me to think about doing an exhibition at the Palais. It’s quite recent ; it all started less than two years ago.
Why did you choose to involve several artists in this exhibition?
I not only involved artists, but also exceptional craftsmen with a unique savoir-faire. From the beginning of my career, they have always had a prominent place in my creative process, whether through collaborations or cartes blanches. Inviting artists and craftsmen to take part in this exhibition was also a way of showing my respect for them, while providing them with the opportunity to express their own vision of my work. It was a way for me to show that my work is often a team effort.