French designer Pierre Hardy is a busy man. This shoe and accessory creative is the guy responsible for the ever increasing amount of over-the-top color combinations on platform shoes that have flooded the market since his collaboration with fashion house Balenciaga began in 2001. (His multi-color collection for Fall 2007 has fashion fans foaming at the mouth). Like the shoe designing legend Salvatore Ferragamo had done almost 100 years before him, Pierre Hardy changed the way the fashion world looks at shoes through his own label and with his multiple collaborations. Hardy also changed the way most accessory designers combine colors when designing shoes. (Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery..right?) Amazingly, the same year Hardy began his collaboration designing shoes for Balenciaga, he was also named creative director of fine jewelry for the pinnacle house of chic French design - Hermes. With the folklore, the savoir faire, and the global demand for the handcrafted treasures this house has created since 1837, being named Creative Director of Fine Jewelry must have been a special moment in Pierre Hardy's career. After all, he is in the finest and most rarified of company, as there are only a handful of legendary houses with developed Fine Jewelry divisions. Chanel, Christian Dior, & Hermes have the legacy.
In a brilliant move, Hardy began designing a capsule collection of shoes for mainstream fashion brand GAP in 2007. This meant the designer was now able to serve fashion shoe fanatics from both ends of the price-point spectrum - a move few have been able to coordinate with skill.
After more than a decade with Hermes, Hardy seems to have only just begun, as his designs are timeless and will become luxury collectibles. The latest FJ collection pays tribute to the legacy of Hermes as the premiere Saddler in France. Titled Centaur, it is masculine, sleek, and of course so luxurious. The homage to the hoof is clear and this grounding reference of strength makes these items as unique and innovative as they are timeless. Black Jade, Rose Gold, and Pave Diamonds are the rarified elements you would expect to find on Fine Jewelry this exquisite.
Pierre Hardy is a modernist. Too often modern designs are overlooked or underrated due to the "simplicity" of the creations. This is a mistake. There is nothing more complicated or challenging than designing a "modern" shoe, ring, jacket, or home for that matter. The challenge being that modern design has the threat of becoming dated faster than any other style. Great modern designs become classic over time, while bad modern designs become tacky and dated references to a past look into the future. There is rarely any middle ground. Fortunately for Pierre, his work is nowhere near the middle. Mr. Hardy also happens to be a nice guy. With so many big egos in the world of design, Hardy is refreshingly down to earth and polite. I spent one fun night a few years back driving around Paris in the back of Hardy's Jag as he and another friend chatted away in French catching up on old times. We were headed to a house party.. (as one does in Paris) and Pierre was as unassuming in every social situation that night as any friendly student, even though he was one of the hottest fashion designers around!
Pierre Hardy is one to remember, as his designs are here to stay. They are also in-store to collect! A visit to the Pierre Hardy Flagship in New York's West Village is a must for anyone planning a trip to NYC. (Put it on the list in your Bleecker Street Pilgrimage).
Click Pierre Hardy to read more about the designer and his creative world.
Click Hermes to visit the on-line encyclopedia of the brand. Search for the store near you and telephone the boutique to ask about the Centaur Fine Jewelry Collection by Pierre Hardy. Prices range from $25,000 to $880,000 - plan accordingly.
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