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GOOD MORNING STARSHINE

I wouldn't have got this far if... if my dear father hadn't introduced me to the wonderful world of shoes.

I went to his office like other children go to the park on late afternoons, Wednesdays and weekends. My parents couldn't afford a nanny, so I'd wander through cardboard boxes and shoeboxes. I built huts and dungeons out of cardboard boxes. I amused myself as I could with the deliveries. It was exactly the same for Renaud, my son, who accompanied me everywhere. In every store, on every trip. In Asia, in Normandy. It's in our blood. What's more, I remember that my parents had taken in a cousin of theirs who had fled Spain and its regime at the time. An incredible woman. A complete and utterly mad artist, too, but one with whom I discovered fantastic writers, authors, visual artists and film-makers. She'd set up a little workshop in the broom cupboard of our apartment, where she made all kinds of things: dolls, automatons, set pieces. She spent her time creating, and I sometimes acted as her assistant. I learned from her a love of fabric and noble materials. She wasn't easy to get along with, and sometimes even very hard, but I learned a certain rigor and poetry from her. And then one day she left, without saying a word, without saying thank you. We worried, and then we learned that she'd gone to Canada, to live with another cousin. She had started designing high-speed thrill rides in Vancouver.
Patricia Blanchet

Your parents were very much part of the Parisian intellectual scene in its heyday. Did you benefit from this? What did it bring you?

The Parisian intellectual milieu fascinated me. But I was interested in the intellectual milieu of the 20s and 30s. I read a lot about them. On the other hand, the people who came to my house didn't impress me much because they were close friends. They were like uncles, or aunties. They talked about situationism, but I didn't understand much about it when I was a kid. I remember going to bed very late, lulled by the waft of smoke and the smell of whisky.
Patricia Blanchet

You were diagnosed as gifted at the age of 12. How did this affect your adolescence?

My parents were concerned because I spent more time watching what was going on in my schoolyard than listening in class. I had trouble with teaching. It was slow and tedious, and I was already dreaming of working and drawing my first models. So my parents took me to a couple of shrinks and had me go through a whole battery of tests, after which I was diagnosed as a special case. As a result, I skipped a grade and, above all, it reassured my parents who thought I was unfit for school and pretty much everything else. In a way, I was.

Who was the first person to look kindly on you?

My grandmother, without a doubt. I didn't know her very well, as she passed away when I was very young, but she was always guiding me in my sketches and designs for dresses and clothes. It was only later that I began to apply this to shoes. It was a more meticulous and complicated job, but when I got down to it, I discovered some very intense creative joys.

When did you realize you were going to set up your own brand?

When I got fed up with putting my knowledge at the disposal of others. It was a question of emancipation. I was working with my husband and needed to get some fresh air, and above all to prove to myself that I had the resources to set up my own brand with the vision that followed.
Patricia Blanchet

And it was instantly simple?

Oh no, I really started off on tiptoe, for fear of disturbing anyone. All I wanted was a burst of joy and color. So I tried to make a timid place for myself with my husband, supported by Renaud. It was a bit complicated at first and I had to fight hard.

If you had to start all over again, would you do everything exactly the same way?

With the exception that I'd start this adventure earlier.

And why didn't you do it earlier then?

That's a fair question. But I don't think I was ready to reveal myself and my work. It's not a trivial thing to do. It's a question of timing. And you always have to keep an eye on the clock.

It's often said that you've reinvented glitter. Sometimes even that you invented it. In any case, you've brought it to life so gracefully that you seem to have made it your own.

Oh, that's nice. I just used it as I saw fit, in a very simple, uncluttered way. It was my grandmother who first taught me to always push the envelope a little further. Never hesitate to express yourself the way you want to. Search deep down in your guts and soul for the right way to say things. It's by being as accurate as possible in your expression that you can allow doubt to creep in.

You've often been approached by the cinema. I heard that the remake of Barbarella called on your talents?

Yes, we did. But production was put on hold. I think there were some rights issues. So it's been postponed. We're often called upon for plays, films and series. It's very rare that we respond positively to requests because we don't have the time.

Your father, so present and so important, what did he pass on to you?

He gave me the desire to carry on and transform his efforts. A certain rigor and respect for others. He used to tell me a lot about his life and his travels. He could talk all night non-stop without ever saying the same thing twice. I don't know how he managed to do everything he did in one lifetime. Of course, this led me to adopt a nomadic lifestyle, traveling, discovering, meeting new people. Inevitably, it forges you. And then there's the love of a job well done. I always saw him working hard to give his best. He never stopped.
Patricia Blanchet

What can we expect from your next collections?

Renewal mixed with continuity. Continuity with a luminous Fifty-Five, soft glitter and a cosy Gaby. And then a renewal of form with new heel heights, slimmer toes, new illustrations on the shoes. I'm very happy and excited to be showing all these new models, because I think this new collection will be surprising, invigorating and fun. The most important thing about designing shoes is to have fun doing it, because that's the best way to achieve something that's cheerful and creative and that people will enjoy.

What can we wish you for the future, dear Patricia?

The same as everyone else on this planet. Serenity and joy. And plenty of it. Interview by Thierry Troyat of the Académie Française ©.
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