An illustrator turned designer, Parisian designer Pierre Hardy is known for his bold, graphic and often architectural accessories work with Hermès and Balenciaga, along with that his own eponymous label. With the tendency to push boundaries and test limits, Hardy’s shoes, bags and jewelry have earned him a large international following while forging new, innovative paths in the realm of design. SSENSE recently sat down with the designer to discuss his love for art, ’60s ski culture and his approach to fashion. Check out the excerpt below and you can read the full feature and interview here.
Let us start at the beginning of your aesthetic feeling. As a child, were you always drawn to art and design?
No, not at all – I was more into sport and physical activities, more than design. As a kid, design did not really even exist as a ‘real’ job. It was something for others. But actually, I loved to draw, and to paint, but design, properly, no, I never thought about it.
So like any child, you did all things, from sports to painting. But were you also the person drawing alone by themselves?
Yes, totally – I could draw by myself all the day long.
What was your first experience of ‘fashion’ or clothing that you were struck by?
One of the first things that I loved was a ski outfit, because it was different. For a kid, clothes are just a way to dress, but when you go skiing, you dress differently, in a very specific way. I remember my mother’s ski outfit, for example, back in the early 60s; it was really different from what she would usually wear. That is one of my first memories. I thought it was beautiful because it was very modern in relation to her ‘city clothes’ or her ‘everyday clothes’. The ski outfit was different, very specific, very designed too, very graphic, but very simple also. It had to be efficient, and back in the 60s it had to also be very elegant and very feminine; I remember the color, the texture, everything. Even as a kid I could notice that these were special and not ‘regular’ clothes.
In the early 60s, ski culture was truly the force of modernity…
Yes, you are right. Totally. It was about speed, performance, about extreme conditions also. So for me it was a very important moment. And we used to go very often to ski, at least 3 – 4 times a year, it was great.
You then went on to study Fine Art, and became an illustrator. What would be some of your most admired artists and art movements?
[Laughs] Thousands! But what I love is to combine very old things and very new things. For example, I am crazy about Caravaggio – for me, [his work] is the most powerful, it moves me so much, really. The feeling, the perception of the light, of the bodies, of the movement, its quite ‘Romantic’ in a way, even though it came way before the real Romantic movement. But also I like Botticelli – I think all the Renaissance, all of that period is very important for me. It looks like a ‘Lost Paradise,’ in a way. I am very in love with the this movement. I also love 18th Century French painting; it’s the perfection of an art, of a technique, of a ‘know how,’ of the apparition of a ‘new sensibility,’ of new intelligence, of a new ‘look.’ Of course, I am also very in love with Modern Art, Contemporary Art, from Sol Le Witt, to nowadays.
It was the International Festival of Contemporary Art [FIAC] last week in Paris – what are some of your current loves from the contemporary art scene?
Brice Marden, I love – I was at the FIAC last weekend, and I saw some of his work. Even Warhol – of course, he’s a Pop artist. But as a fashion designer I think Pop is very important too, because sometimes contemporary art are very abstract and far from your life in a way. But Pop Art is steeped in real life, deep into the actuality, the way they treat it and they way they look at it, and what they show; their reality is not so far from the way we are working in fashion nowadays.