With Olivier Saillard, it was never as trivial than telling the historical significance of many fashion extraordinaires underlining their craft. As a fashion historian and performance artist, he has curating over 140 exhibits. His appointment at J.M. Weston last year as artistic image and culture director, showcases the brand’s ethos in a tasteful rendition displayed at the Café de l’Epoque in Paris during the presentation in January this year. 17 new variations on Weston’s house classic, Mocassin 180 were served by models dressed as waiters in a 20 minute performance inspired by café waiters who were said to favor J.M. Weston loafers due to their sturdiness and life long insole repairs.
Arriving at the scene, I was handed keys assuming that it opened the doors to the exhibit. A total overkill on my part. The keys were given as a memoria of the event. Unlike the performance in Paris during January, the event in Japan took place in a fictional workshop with J.M. Weston stamp marks plastered on some of the walls and paper drafts. Among that were boards and glass encased bisous or kisses in red kiss marks left by the guests (which I took the liberty of leaving my own very unsettling one). Small details such as the serviettes were printed with Saillard’s poems which were also repeated on the Mocassin 180s.Out of all the 17 variations, they included chalk drawn outlines on a black leather while another had J.M. Weston letterings in a newspaper-like screen print and leather cutouts, colourful embellished stitchings which were a shout out to Cristobal Balenciaga, a trompe l’oeil alligator pattern stitching, and many more. You can see that the shoes were inspired by all aspects of Saillard’s years of experience as curator referenced in a French mannerism of sarcasm, playfulness, and respectful homages. There seemed to be a longing of the past.
In curiosity, I asked Saillard if there was anyone in mind that he’d like to curate an exhibit for. “There isn’t anyone in particular and I fail to understand the fashion ‘present’.” he says. Joining J.M. Weston was a break from years of being director of the Museé de la Mode, though Saillard admittedly said it took some persuasion in the beginning. The definition of luxury certainly has changed but with like minded individuals joining the fray, the next decade might be more promising. Speaking of which, Saillard will be publishing a fashion history book that’s to come out by this year or next which will be worth looking into.