Ar­ti­stic, Ima­ge and Cul­tu­re Di­rec­tor of J.M. We­ston


Re­cen­tly ap­poin­ted as the ar­ti­stic, ima­ge and cul­tu­re di­rec­tor of the Fren­ch shoe­ma­kers J.M. We­ston, Sail­lard is one of the mo­st re­no­w­ned and in­no­va­ti­ve cu­ra­tors of fa­shion. Sail­lard left his ro­le as di­rec­tor of the Pa­lais Gal­lie­ra fa­shion mu­seum in Par is, whe­re he be­gan in 2010, put­ting the mu­seum on the map. Of all his bril­liant ex­hi­bi­tions, one of the mo­st no­ta­ble was The Im­pos­si­ble Wardrobe, a per­for­man­ce star­ring Til­da Swin­ton at the Pa­lais de To­kyo, at whi­ch the ac­tress ex­pres­si­ve­ly car­ried ar­chi­val ar­ti­cles of clo­thing i nstead of wea­ring t hem. De­di­ca­ting my li­fe to fa­shion was ne­ver a que­stion. It is so­me­thing that I ha­ve do­ne sin­ce I was ve­ry young. I re­mem­ber spen­ding all my ti­me in the at­tic of my mo­ther and fa­ther’s hou­se, full of old clo­thes. I didn’t ha­ve my own be­droom - I spent all my ti­me in the­re from 5 un­til 20 years old. It was a spe­cial at­mo­sphe­re.

Ma­ny years af­ter, when I star­ted in the fa­shion mu­seum, I rea­li­sed that it was the exact equi­va­lent at­mo­sphe­re. Clo­thes areim­por­tant to­me, be­fo­re fa­shion. Iwa sal­so con­cer­ned to do so­me­thing new in fa­shion. And so­me­thing new, when I star­ted in the ’80s, was to stu­dy the pa­st. I was in­te­re­sted in doing so­me­thing new with the pa­st. In my li­fe, I’ve al­ways be­lie­ved the pa­st is mo­re beau­ti­ful than the pre­sent, pro­ba­bly for one rea­son: no­stal­gia.

One day, I think it was when I star­ted to work with Til­da Swin­ton - I am ve­ry in­te­re­sted in wo­men who dress like men - I di­sco­ve­red a fa­mous por­trait by Ma­rian­ne Bre­slauer of Annemarie Schwarzenbach. In the ima­ge she wears a pul­lo­ver and a shirt, and she’s like a man and a wo­man. It’s a ve­ry strong por­trait.

I then tried to find ano­ther ima­ge, and ca­me to learn mo­re about her. I di­sco­ve­red that she was a wri­ter, a pho­to­gra­pher. She had a ve­ry short li­fe; she died at 34. When I left the Gal­lie­ra and ca­me to J.M.We­ston, whi­ch is of cour­se a men’s shoe brand, I said to the CEO, “If we ever do any­thing de­vo­ted to wo­men, Annemarie Schwarzenbach could be, would be, should be the idea of the J.M. We­ston wo­man.”

Schwarzenbach had a ve­ry na­tu­ral ele­gan­ce - it’s not like ma­ny gay wo­men du­ring the ’20s. She had so­me­thing mo­re so­phi­sti­ca­ted. She was ne­ver over­dres­sed; she was ve­ry na­tu­ral.

I’m ve­ry sur­pri­sed that, in the pa­st de­ca­des, wo­men are wo­men and men are men. All the men are bo­dy­buil­ding; the wo­men are buy­ing lips and boobs. I think it’s a stu­pid mo­de. Du­ring the ’20s and ’30s, it was im­por­tant for wo­men to re­veal them­sel­ves: not their fe­mi­ni­ni­ty but their hu­ma­ni­ty. It was not a que­stion of gen­der, but a que­stion of hu­man, of being ali­ve.

I’m com­ple­te­ly sur­roun­ded by Annemarie Schwarzenbach. It is an in­ju­sti­ce that she isn’t ve­ry kno­wn in the world. We ha­ve ne­ver seen an ex­hi­bi­tion of her pho­to­gra­phs in Pa­ris. I don’t like the idea of men or wo­men, espe­cial­ly af­ter this di­sa­ster of Har­vey Wein­stein. In Pa­ris we used to talk a lot about fe­mi­ni­ni­ty and men’s po­si­tion; I real­ly think we ha­ve the wrong idea.

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