Hall of Fame

How the de­signer’s lim­it­less pas­sion and un­for­get­table cre­ations have ce­mented his sta­tus as a shoe le­gend.


Pierre Hardy

For me, draw­ing is like talk­ing,” said Pierre Hardy. “It’s the eas­i­est way for me to ex­press my­self.” The de­signer was sit­ting in his Paris of­fice — just down the street from the city’s Saint Sulpice church — and sketch­ing the first-ever shoe he cre­ated for his epony­mous la­bel when it launched nearly two decades ago. Hardy drew the sim­ple pump, with its heel shaped like a ra­zor blade, up­side down from across his desk.

It was this ex­cep­tional tal­ent for sketch­ing that pro­pelled Hardy into the footwear in­dus­try and launched his 30-year ca­reer as one of the world’s most crit­i­cally ac­claimed de­sign­ers. He had been work­ing as an il­lus­tra­tor at the Chris­tian Dior trend of­fice in 1987 when he was tapped to de­sign the house’s shoes.

Af­ter es­tab­lish­ing him­self in that po­si­tion, Hardy moved to Her­mès in 1990 to de­sign the women’s footwear col­lec­tion. He added men’s shoes to his reper­toire in 1997 and took the cre­ative reins of the French house’s jew­elry in 2001. (Hardy re­tains all three roles to­day).

Even as his re­spon­si­bil­i­ties at Her­mès were grow­ing, the de­signer’s bound­less cre­ativ­ity fu­eled his de­ci­sion to cre­ate a name­sake la­bel in 1999. “Work­ing with dif­fer­ent brands, I still had ideas left that I couldn’t use, as they didn’t match or were just too much for one col­lec­tion,” he re­called. “So I thought, ‘Let’s cre­ate a space for that.’”

The first Pierre Hardy col­lec­tion fea­tured three col­ors — black, white and red — and one ra­zor-shaped heel sil­hou­ette in three heights. “I wanted some­thing as strong and sharp as a stiletto from the ’60s,” he said, “but in a new, mod­ern way that could of­fer a dif­fer­ent feel­ing from the pro­file and from the back.”

While he was craft­ing the vi­sion for his la­bel, Hardy added an­other leg­endary name to his port­fo­lio. In 2001, he be­gan work­ing with Ni­co­las Gh­esquière at Ba­len­ci­aga, a part­ner­ship that would span 11 mem­o­rable years. An in­te­ri­ors-in­spired piece with a wooden up­per and geo­met­ric-tiled heel from Ba­len­ci­aga’s fall ’10 col­lec­tion sits on the win­dowsill of his of­fice. “I have one foot,” he said. “Ni­co­las has the other.”

Al­ways ahead of the curve, Hardy de­signed Her­mès’ first fash­ion sneaker, the Quick, for spring ’98. “When you look at the suc­cess of the sneaker in the fash­ion world to­day, Pierre stands out as a vi­sion­ary,” said Her­mès CEO Axel Du­mas, who de­scribed Hardy’s col­lec­tions for the house as a mix of play­ful­ness and math­e­mat­i­cal sim­plic­ity.

“He of­fers some­thing of the sci­en­tist and the sculp­tor si­mul­ta­ne­ously, com­bined with a highly con­tem­po­rary eye and pro­found bold­ness,” said Du­mas. “[He has the] util­i­tar­ian ap­proach to the ob­ject and the strong sense of style, which are part of Her­mès’ DNA. He rein­vents him­self con­stantly, al­ways look­ing for­ward.”

Jen­nifer Cuvil­lier, fash­ion di­rec­tor at Le Bon Marché, lauded Hardy’s abil­ity to in­fuse his unique aes­thetic into ev­ery de­sign. “His touch is so spe­cific that you can rec­og­nize a Pierre Hardy shoe right away,” she said. “He is su­per-cre­ative, but it’s al­ways with his DNA.”

What feeds his pas­sion for in­no­va­tion? “It’s the de­sire for new­ness. Fash­ion is made to change or evolve,” Hardy said. “I try to re­flect what is hap­pen­ing around me, but what I love comes to the top.”


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