Jacques Deray’s 1969 film La Piscine (The Swimming Pool) is probably on the favorite list of many passionate cinema, fashion and style fans. Starring Alain Delon and Romy Schneider, the film recounts the vicissitudes of Jean-Paul and Marianne, two lovers who spend their holidays in a villa with a swimming pool near Saint-Tropez. Though the main connection La Piscine has with fashion is in the costumes designed by André Courrèges, the whole film oozes a special stylish atmosphere. It was the ambiance and the mood of the film, and not only those detailed shots framing the male protagonist’s soft leather shoes, that inspired footwear designer Max Kibardin’s ( HYPERLINK “http://www.maxkibardin.com” www.maxkibardin.com) new men’s collection.
Born in Siberia, Kibardin studied architecture in Moscow before moving to Paris and eventually arriving in Milan, where he worked for different brands and designers, such as Alberto Biani and Pollini. In 2004 Kibardin launched his first signature collection, focusing on sophisticated and timeless women’s footwear. Selected as one for the three finalists of the “Who Is On Next?/Uomo” award—the competition set in Italy to uncover new talents in men’s fashion—Kibardin was announced winner of his category at the 76th Pitti Uomo event in Florence and he’s being given an especially appointed showcase to present his his new collection of shoes and accessories in an installation-style during the January edition of the popular fashion trade show. (The designer declines to give specifics on the exact nature of his presentation except that he will be collaborating with an artist who inspired this forthcoming presentation. He is also working with an architect of his choice to realize this installation.
The keyword to Kibardin’s collections is quality. All his shoes are created according to the highest standards of craftsmanship: the new men’s collection features footwear in the finest materials, such as suede, nabuk, ostrich hide and crocodile, in bright shades of colours, from mimosa yellow to deep turquoise, pale pink and soft purple.
The “intrecciato” motif prevails in some of the models. Others are characterised by the absence of any stitching or by incredibly flexible soles. Yet all of Kibardin’s designs are dedicated to all the men and women who want to add a bit of everyday luxury to their lives.
Anna Battista: What prompted you to start designing shoes?
Max Kibardin: My grandfather was a traditional shoemaker who designed Georgian shoes. People often imagine me sitting down and learning the ropes from him. But I think it was more something I had in my blood that pushed me to become a footwear designer.
Your men’s collection features roughly 40 styles. What inspired it?
The main inspiration was the French movie La Piscine, featuring Romy Schneider and Alain Delon. I absolutely love what they wore in the film and how they wore it. They really looked gorgeous. The collection was created according to the highest standards of craftsmanship, with a great attention to detail and with a few vintage styles in mind. All the shoes were made in North Italy, where they have the know-how that I need to produce my shoes. I tried to update some of the classic styles of this collection byadding some vibrant colours and opting for exciting materials to make them more contemporary, young and casual. I see my work as a way of giving customers a chance to invest in everyday luxury ,choosing timeless designs that will stay with them forever.
What’s the first thing you do when you start designing a new collection?
When the new collections come out, I see everything other designers have done, and I carefully study what’s on the market. Then I start working on styles I haven’t seen and come up with a few ideas and rough sketches, pulling inspirations also from my personal archives, which include films, art and ballet.
You are maybe more famous for being a women’s shoe designer. When did you decide to work also on men’s styles?
I like to inject emotions into my collections, and my women’s collections are usually very sophisticated. Yet in the last five years, people haven’t been into very sophisticated designs, and women’s shoe designers have been looking at aggressive trends, featuring studs and spikes in their work. I found it very difficult to express my philosophy in current times, and I suddenly felt more at ease trying to distil the essence of my work into men’s collections. They somehow allowed me to explain my emotions better.
Do you think the financial crisis and the consequent recession had an impact on the footwear market?
There has been a crisis because a lot of people started producing the same designs without putting their hearts into what they did. I think that designers must try to sell a lifestyle, a philosophy and not just a product. You must try and inspire people. This is the solution to the crisis.
Britney Spears wore your shoes for her latest concert, but what’s incredible about that is that you had nothing to do with it, and were in fact surprised to learn of it through the press. How do you feel about this? Is Britney Spears the type of woman you imagine when you design your collections?
Britney Spears is considered one of the most important entertainers of our times. Seeing her choosing my shoes for her “Circus” tour made me really happy. Yet when I design a collection, I never imagine a type of woman. I try instead to develop my concepts as luxurious designs, making sure that they embody a dream for all women.
Do you plan to eventually meet Britney and maybe do a special collaboration with her?
We received a request from her office to develop another pair of shoes for her tour. We were pleased and happy to oblige.
Besides Britney Spears, what other celebrities would you love to collaborate with, if you care at all?
I would be happy to work with any woman who has achieved success in her career, be it in politics, show business, journalism or fashion.
Is there an actor/actress/dancer you would like to see wearing your creations?
I would actually love to see Iké Udé wearing my shoes! He’s got a very special taste ,and he knows what quality and unique design truly mean.
Who is your favourite shoe designer?
What do you like doing when you’re not working?
I like going to the theatre, exhibitions and ballets, and spending time with my family and friends.
What’s your favourite ballet?
I like a lot of different ballets, but one of my favourites is “Fountain of Bakhchisarai” which has some fantastically coloured costumes, this is why I used it as the inspiration for my Spring/Summer 09 collection. The ballet features one of my favourite étoiles, Maya Plisetskaya. It is actually inspired by a 19th century poem by Alexander Pushkin, and it’s about the fountain inside the Bakhchisarai Palace in Crimea, also known as the “Fountain of Tears”. In the ballet Zarema, one of Khan Girey’s concubines living in the Bakhchisarai Palace harem, tries to win back the attention of the Khan, who has fallen in love with a European noblewoman. I based my collection both on the Middle East-meets-West theme and the richness vs. austerity dichotomy. While I was creating it, I imagined a Western woman adapting her clothes to the Oriental wardrobe. So I came up with classical shapes and silhouettes, but I decorated the heels with gold chains, fishnets and veils. The palette – a combination of cobalt blue, black, gold, fuchsia and emerald – was my very personal tribute to Yves Saint -Laurent.
What inspired your 2010 collection?
The Autumn/Winter 2010 collection was inspired by the artistic transition between Art Nouveau and Art Deco. This period contains many visually brilliant designs which escape any specific definition or classification. Among the remarkable work from this period is that of the French designer and illustrator E.A. Seguy. His portfolio contains extremely original patterns in provocative colour combinations, including different shades of rose pink, violet and green. Besides that, one of Seguy’s main themes is nature, from flowers and foliage to fruit and birds. So I adapted my collection to the colours, motifs, shapes and silhouettes of Seguy’s artworks, and tried to reproduce them in materials that include exotic skins, metallic nuances and satins.
Do you have any plans or dreams for the future?
My dream is to design clothes one day.
Where can we buy your shoes?
In Italy they’re available from Bardelli and Vetrina di Beryl. In the States you will be able to find them at Saks and Fred Segal.