PARIS — It’s said J.M Weston loafers are popular with café waiters because they’re sturdy and you can have them resoled at the factory for life.
That piece of lore prompted Olivier Saillard, artistic, image and culture director of the heritage shoe brand, to stage a performance on Tuesday evening at the Café de l’Epoque, a picture-book Paris institution dating back to the 19th century.
Now in his second season at the brand, Saillard homed in on the 180 Moccasin Loafer with a collection of made-to-order styles available in materials ranging from white suede calfskin to black alligator leather, hoisted on double, triple or even quadruple soles.
Models disguised as waiters proffered wooden parquet trays bearing the shoes, as guests munched on eggs mayonnaise, pâté sandwiches and other typical bistro fare, washed down with a glass of wine. Saillard, a white apron tied around his waist, recited poems that spewed from the cash register.
“I wanted to reintroduce a bit of humor into fashion. I find it’s missing from the shows. Everyone — from the houses and designers to the press — is so harried, and nobody has time to laugh anymore,” he said during a preview.
Guests, including Inès de la Fressange, giggled as Saillard reeled off Surrealistic descriptions of the designs. Standouts included the Reverse II, a beige shoe made from the calfskin that usually lines the shoe. “That one’s a bit Margiela,” mused Saillard, whose last exhibition in his former role as director of the Palais Galliera fashion museum was dedicated to the reclusive Belgian designer.
Two pairs featured embroidery by Lesage, while another was crisscrossed with lines of colored thread in a motif inspired by the pattern of a Balenciaga dress. Others still were screenprinted with Saillard’s poems or trompe-l’oeil stitching.
While his verbal pirouettes and sarcastic asides were sadly lost on non-French speakers, the sheer charm of the setting required no translation.