Francois Ascencio is a French shoe designer who collaborated with many famous brands, including Lanvin, Martin Margelia, APC, Calvin Klein, Skapa. Until 2000, Mr. Asencio produced his own Double A shoe line. However, he came to Russia as a fashion stylist. They took place on 29 and 30 on September at the MosShoes shoe exhibition in the French Pavilion. With his stylistic decisions, Francois helps French manufacturers to attract the attention of Russian buyers and thus find partners in Russia. Today, however, Mr. Asencio considers teaching to be his main concern. Therefore, he was very pleased to share with SR his views on the French school of shoe design.
- What is the French school of shoe design today?
- Unfortunately, the French school of shoe design today is in a difficult position. Circumstances have developed in such a way that at the moment there is not a single state university in Paris where shoe design is taught. The latter closed about a year and a half ago. Therefore, the monopoly remained with the private schools Esmod-Paris, Comité Colbert and ISM (Institut Français de la mode), which, as part of the overall design program, offer a separate course in the design of shoes and accessories. By the way, these courses are very popular among young people. I’m just teaching shoe design at Esmod-Paris. This optional course is offered to students in the third year of study, when they have already become acquainted with the basics of design. It lasts only six months. Of course, I believe that this is not enough, but even at the end of such a short course, we recommend our graduates to participate in international exhibitions of leather products, for example, “Leather in Paris”.
- What is the course program based on?
- Usually, students have poor ideas about how to create shoes, so they want to get more detailed information about this. My course just gives them an understanding of how to produce shoes and what you need to be able to do for this. We often involve heads of shoe companies, designers, and technologists in the classroom, who can explain in detail the nuances of production. We organize excursions to shoe factories. However, the basis of training is lectures on the history of shoes and practical exercises. I work together with a theatrical costume designer who has a huge collection of stylized shoes. Using concrete models as an example, we tell students how forms, tastes, and fashion have changed from one era to another. In turn, the guys have the opportunity not only to look at the picture, but also to touch the finished models, so to speak, to touch the story. At the same time, students see which shoes match which suit. This gives them the opportunity to understand the image as a whole.
The second part of the course is practical exercises. One of my favorite tasks is to offer students to buy any pair of shoes, leave one half pair untouched, and transform the second one and decorate as Muse tells them. Changing the finished model, the student loses fear of the production of shoes. It no longer seems to him something fantastic. After the model is ready, I suggest that they pick up a costume for her, and then we photograph the students in the image they created.
Then after some time, I recommend that students measure sandals by their standards. They draw sketches, draw diagrams, and I tell them about the possible technical difficulties associated with the production of a particular model. So the students make their first couple, which they then demonstrate in a festive atmosphere. Students are preparing for the final work in advance, its theme is announced in a few months. Usually, students prepare a complete set of accessories: shoes, belt, bag and hat. I control the preparation process at all stages. We ourselves recommend to students which factories they should turn to for help. The final show of accessory collections takes place in May. Students' work is evaluated by an expert council consisting of teachers, designers and manufacturers. Professionals express their opinion on the work and issue a verdict. This ends the education at our school, but students can continue to learn the basics of making shoes and accessories at Comité Colbert. There they already improve their acquired skills, study the design and production process more deeply. In turn, we do not require them to have thorough knowledge of all the technical subtleties, since we consider this superfluous. In our opinion, an excess of this information can narrow the look at the design, scare and ultimately block the imagination. Therefore, the proverb “you know less, sleep better” is relevant to some extent for us. Nevertheless, I believe that everyone who is involved in this process should have the initial knowledge necessary in the production of shoes. After all, you can create an extraordinary sketch, while due to certain technical reasons it will be impossible to bring it to life. I often quote the French shoe designer Roger de Vivier, known for his collaboration with Christian Dior and the shoes he created in which Elizabeth II was at her coronation: “You can wear clothes, but the shoes will wear you.” Simply put, any clothing, if it doesn’t quite suit you in size, can be customized to fit, but with shoes it is impossible to do it: it either suits you or not.
- Does Esmod-Paris collaborate with shoe manufacturers? If so, under what conditions and why is it interesting for factories?
- Of course, it cooperates, otherwise the learning process could not be called complete. Our school is in close relationship with many shoe factories that regularly offer internships to our students. It often happens that if a producer likes the work of a young designer, he invites him to a permanent job. Companies are interested in finding new ideas, solutions, fresh eyes. They are looking for young designers who offer bold solutions and find them with us. As a result, our cooperation continues the history of French shoe design.
- Speaking of French design. German shoes are characterized by quality and comfort, while Italian shoes are characterized by sophistication, sophisticated design and luxury. What is the peculiarity of French shoes?
- France is a country that is already inscribed in the world history of fashion and fashion for shoes in particular. France has always been consistent with the general spirit of the times. In this regard, Queen Marie Antoinette, famous for her impeccable taste, is an excellent example. She can be called the initiator of fashion Haute Couture. So, for each dress she had her own pair of shoes - in those days, this in itself was a novelty. And the most famous from her collection of shoes were shoes with a diamond buckle. By the way, for the film “Marie Antoinette”, shot by Sofia Coppola in the 2006 year, Manolo Blahnik made 20 sketches of shoes, five of the best saw the light.
It was in France that women first put on high-heeled shoes. In France, with the filing of Roger de Vivier, a stiletto heel was created. Today, fashion in France is more extravagant, but for many years the French style was characterized by the beauty of lines, simplicity of details, elegance and grace. Personally, I always had the desire to create simple shoes with clean lines, because according to the laws of French design, if the dress is bright and accent, then the shoes should be modest and inconspicuous. Do not forget that in it we walk on the ground, and not always on the sparkling brilliance of the palace floors.
- Which of your projects do you consider the most important?
- At the moment, the most important thing for me is that I can pass on my experience to the younger generation. It stimulates great, gives strength and hope for the future. And the creation of shoe collections remains a favorite pastime. During my life I managed to work with a large number of shoe companies of different styles and directions. And always received incredible pleasure from it. Although at the same time, working as a fashion stylist gives me no less joy, for example, as at the MosShoes exhibition, where I stylized the fashion show of shoes of French brands. I love fashion in general, because, despite the variability, it always excites the imagination and gives rise to new ideas.
- What inspires you?
- It can be anything, for example, a movie. I adore him, watch a lot of films. When free time is given, I leaf through books on painting or go to Paris exhibitions. Also often in search of inspiration I read magazines and generally follow the changes in society, in related fields of art. I advise the same to my students. I recommend that they pay attention to everything that surrounds them in life. The designer needs to be curious in order to feel the mood of society and reflect them in their work.
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