Guests including gallerist Larry Gagosian, French actor Lambert Wilson and ballerina Marie-Agnès Gillot joined hosts Antoine Arnault and John Elkann at the event on Monday evening, where a Ferrari motor was displayed like a sculpture.
It turns out Arnault, chief executive officer of Berluti, goes way back with Elkann, the chairman of Ferrari, who is known as Yaki to friends. “Believe it or not, he’s a very old friend because in Paris we used to live in the same building. He had an apartment two floors above mine,” he recalled.
More than 20 years later, the two have joined forces on three shoe models — a slip-on, an Oxford and a Chelsea boot — featuring signature stitching and Ferrari Red piping detail in the heels. The shoes will be available from November in a selection of Berluti stores and online.
“These are the lightest shoes that Berluti has done ever. These are shoes which have real technology in them, with carbon fiber that is used for cars for driving. It’s a very special grip that you have on the sole and this is taking inspiration from the engine,” said Elkann.
“The idea is really to try and capture what was the gentleman driver back in the Sixties,” he added, noting the collection coincides with the release of Ferrari’s limited-edition Monza SP1 and SP2, inspired by vintage models but with modern technology.
Arnault confessed that for the time being, he’s admiring Ferrari’s craftsmanship from a distance.
“I have great respect for the Ferrari maison and the Ferrari brand. I’m not myself a huge owner or driver of sports cars. I love the design and I love everything that the brand represents, but I don’t know for what reason, I have other very expensive passions but not this one — luckily,” he said.
“Working on it,” Elkann quickly retorted.
Wilson said he was also immune to the lure of sports cars: he rides a scooter.
“Going very fast is not exactly my fantasy. I actually feel like going slower and slower in life,” the “Matrix” star said. “I don’t like motors because I’m green. That’s an issue for cars. Having said that, I’m in total admiration of them as design objects. For me, it’s a little bit like looking at a Louis XV chest of drawers.”
Wilson’s ties with Berluti go way back to the Eighties, when Olga Berluti, the house’s former artistic director, designed his costumes for “La femme publique” (“The Public Woman”) directed by Andrzej Zulawski and co-starring Valérie Kaprisky.
“In those days, Berluti felt to me like something very distant and inaccessible,” he recalled. How times have changed: Wilson was sporting one of the first suits designed by Kris Van Assche, Berluti’s new creative director, who won’t be showing his first collection for the label until January.