Pierre Hardy is known as a phenomenal designer who sees dance in his interpretations of design whether he creates shoes and accessories for Hermès, a number of his notable collaborations and of course his namesake collection, Pierre Hardy. His love of dance, design and teaching is felt immediately upon any conversation with him.
His career includes being an illustrator for Vanity Fair Italy and Vogue Hommes International, designer of women's shoes for Christian Dior, becoming the Creative Director for Women's and Men's shoe collection, as well as the Creative Director for the Fine Jewelry division of Hermès (he still maintains these roles with the brand), collaborating for over a decade with Nicolas Ghesquière for the women and men's collections at BALENCIAGA - and this is just the quick highlights.
In addition to his coveted roles in the above, in 1999 he launched his own shoe line for men and women and at that time he also collaborated with a number of brands, including 3 shoe capsule collections with GAP and he partnered with NARS for a capsule collection of nail polishes and blushes.
We talked with Pierre to find out his thoughts on designing the smartwatch band for Apple Watch, what his process is like when he is designing, what it was like to launch his own namesake, his relationship with various design houses and the importance of sneakers.
ATHLEISURE MAG: You have designed with Hermès for a number of years and have created iconic prints as well as pieces for the house. What was it like to have the opportunity to create the watch, band?
PIERRE HARDY: It's a very narrow field because I just did the bracelets and leather bands. My mission was to think about what you can do with the band for the smartwatch. What was interesting for me as a designer was to link technically the watch with a high-end leather good - to make them work together. In the beginning, I was a little trepid wondering if this was a good idea - but I was wrong. In the end, it worked so well - for both of the brands I believe! The combination and perfection of how it came together and in working with the team in Paris and to have that time together was interesting.
AM: Will there be other wearable designs in your future?
PH: I believe it was just that one, but I would not say no if they asked me!
AM: Throughout your career, you have collaborated with many designers, what was it like working with them?
PH: First as a point of clarification, I would say that my position with Hermès is not a collaboration, it's more like my second house. We've known each other for such a long time now. When we came together, it was immediate and there wasn't a hierarchy. I was and am happy to be a part of the success of that house. The same can be said in working with Balenciaga. It fit and I liked, as a designer, the experimentation of what we created and it was very different as a designer.
AM: It seems that when you design with these coveted houses that you are in a state of translation.
PH: Absolutely, I always look to transform things into different shapes - something visible, tangible and sensible. Something you can enjoy. I'm always looking to understand as a means to design into the pieces that you enjoy. I'm always searching for something new and better. I love the pleasure and satisfaction that comes from the work.
AM: How did creating your own line come about?
PH: At that time, I had designed with Hermes for about 10 years and wanted to create pieces that there wasn't a place for them in my work there. I came to the realization that I would have to create them in another space. I decided to launch 15 models in my living room and I called the press and said, "I've made some shoes, would you like to see them?" I was lucky because it worked for me!
AM: What were you looking to achieve with this line?
PH: I was naive when I first came out with my line. Looking back at the initial offering, it was a bit rough. When you start something on your own it's so different. The American press was very enthusiastic - it was not the same in France. Neiman Marcus came and bought the first collection - miracle. I told myself that if I sold 1000 pairs of shoes I would be happy - I sold 3000! But when I first started my own line, the idea was there, but the quality wasn't there yet - we were just starting out. I started the line because I wanted newness. People look to the past to recreate but I want to do so in a new way!
AM: You're known for designing heels, bags, and jewelry, but you also design sneakers! Sneakers are on trend - do you think it will continue to evolve?
PH: Yes I design sneakers especially for men! The lines between sneakers and shoes is a blurred one now. It's one of the shoes that women have to wear now - it's our lifestyle and the way we go about our lives! You don't have to think about it and you wear it to be more comfortable and it's a key fashion item nowadays. The main thing to note about them is it's youth. It's the best shoe to wear to look younger! You win 10 years - I'm not kidding! Youth his very important and the feeling of young age is dynamic and filled with energy. I love wearing sneakers! It comes from your memory of college, efficiency, sport, dynamic speed. All of this together - makes you better!
AM: What's your favorite color?
PH: Black - I think everything is beautiful and better in black. The only color I like is red. Black is more of an efficient and theatrical color. It's physical and optical. Anything on a black background looks better and more obvious. Even my home is all black.