Never combine luxury with luxury, says shoe designer Michel Perry

Perry is known as the "king of heels" for his daring women's shoes

PUBLISHED : Friday, 16 August, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 16 August, 2013, 1:24pm

Shoe designer Michel Perry has been the creative head of the rather English-sounding French label J.M. Weston since 2001. Perry has had a colourful history spanning two decades in the industry. His creations for J.M. are now de rigueur for rich and powerful men. The son of a prominent shoemaker, Perry is known in his native France as the "king of heels" for his daring women's shoes, created under his eponymous brand.

"My one rule would be never combine luxury with luxury. You have to know how to nuance, combine very luxurious pieces with simpler ones, in order to find a balance. The main thing is to not look like you're in disguise.

I got into the fashion industry to seduce. Style and luxury are seduction tools if they are naturally in step with one's personality.

If I wasn't a shoe designer I'd be a painter or an architect or an interior decorator. In the end, being an artistic director involves all three of these at the same time.

I love New York and Tokyo for their energy; Venice for thinking and serenity. To be able to create, you have to be physically and mentally well.

The fashion faux pas that put me on edge are padded-down jackets with fur collars, designer belts, "cartoon" socks and their matching boxer shorts, and especially shirts made of synthetic fabrics. That's unforgivable.

In my youth, my style was influenced by looks that were very "dandy rock". It always evolved around that.

I was closer to the English aristocratic-rock looks of the time, with The Rolling Stones or Bowie. I never got into the punk-trash look. My style evolved, but my way of combining things is still the same.

Today, perhaps, I focus more on nuance and subtlety, whereas in my youth I was much more provocative. At the time, provocation was an argument for me.

The future [of fashion] will be marked by a return to attention to detail and personalisation. Mass fashion is not compatible with the notion of luxury.

Luxury must therefore reinvent itself by becoming more niche, because being commonplace has become a distinctive feature of fashion houses today. We all need to get back to real values.

I don't have many surprising style heroes. There was the Duke of Windsor, David Bowie, The Beatles in their early days. There are fewer surprising personalities today. Everyone's been "washed" by marketing. Everything has a bit less flavour now. You have to go back a bit to find people who truly expressed their personality, who had asperity."

As told to Abid Rahman