PARIS — J.M. Weston’s Marais shop has been reimagined as an exhibit space.
After a soft opening when the city still had a curfew and other restrictions, the space finally kicks off with “Chaussoevres,” dedicated to specially designed models of the brand’s footwear.
Eleven works are on display, including a unique symmetrical sculpted boot; a seven-soled derby that places the shoe, literally, on a pedestal, and the spider shoe displaying handwoven “legs.”
The space was the brainchild of fashion curator and J.M. Weston artistic director Olivier Saillard, who was in charge of programming at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs and served as director of the Palais Galliera, who wanted to create a cool space to demystify the house.
The founder’s son, Eugene Blanchard, rechristened the brand J.M. Weston in 1922 after a three-year sojourn in the States. The new moniker is thought to come from the Massachusetts town he studied in during the trip, even though the company’s roots are firmly planted in the central city of Limoges.
But it’s not just about the brand. “When I joined Weston, I insisted on being the artistic director for culture and image, not only for design. So culture is very important to me,” Saillard said.
He cited hanging out in the shops and studios of Yohji Yamamoto, Comme des Garçons and Jean Paul Gaultier as a student as an inspiration. “Gaultier used to have a beautiful shop in Galerie Vivienne, and we students would go there. It was a very open space to hang out and practice fashion. I have a lot of touching memories of going to these shops. The designers were very welcoming at that time,” he said. He hopes the new space can create a similarly democratic vibe.
Saillard is aiming for two exhibits a year, and won’t restrict it to Weston products. He hopes to invite other artists showcasing craftsmanship or even other types of work. “I’m very open to ideas. This place is a place to be welcoming,” he said. “I hope that someone walking past the front of the shop will feel free to come inside — without needing a ticket.”