Interview with Xavier Aubercy


March 10, 2013 by Ville Raivio

“I’m 41 [this interview took place two years ago] and my job is to try to give pleasure to lovers of beautiful objects and beautiful shoes through the creation and production of beautiful shoes. My training has been very varied, because I’ve always been very curious about everything. I studied in a business school, but I also studied according to my passions and my heart. As a characteristic of my family, through our work as shoemakers, who aerealways thinking that it is the heart, the feelings that guide the better the hand of man. So I left during my curiosity and I am trained in gemmology and psychology. But it is especially training in the store of my family for 41 years, with our clients, our people and the world in some wonderful artisans workshops with the most wonderful in all positions of the shoe, in the daily practice in these encounters with fans through their listening but also with teachers who spent more than 50 years of their lives making shoes that have profoundly affected me.

I do not have children yet, but I would have because I’m very attached to the transmission. I myself am the third generation of a family of shoemakers. My grandfather had founded the store near the stock exchange, where it still is today, in 1935. Each generation has expanded from previous generations and has worked to bring something. Each of these generations has also worked with the technique but an indispensable thing whatever his profession. The love. The love of his profession, to defend values​​, love of precision, beautiful materials, time is never counted, the love of these clients, the trust that is paid whenever the door is opened, the store is spent and must be honored, and then the love that united our grandfather and my grandmother, my father and mother who gave their lives, whatever the Hures to share their passion with customers, gentlemen, aristocrats of elegance for 70 years. This feeling is love, I believe, in each of our creation is a supplement of soul to which we are attached. It is their smile, their amazement (while sometimes they can have it all), that smile full of truth that touches us most and that makes us get up every morning trying to improve, always better to meet them.

For me, for us, as in every thing in life is curiosity, of trade, of difference, diversity of opinions, sensitivities, course, the sharing of this that may arise beautiful, exceptional that we are so attached. So every idea is shared, sharing with family, my wife, my collaborators, each of 8 people only consider our workshop, my clients … their reaction, their truth isessential for me. A shoe is a team effort. A shoe in his technique are more than 350 operations but also before and after men and women, who are the guardians of all that is not visible, to me and whose role is to be both the initiator and conductor, every opinion, every sensitivity account. Luxury is a sum of small details (which often can not be seen immediately) which ultimately are implemented. Each reaction, if it is listened to and taken into account, can improve the assembly and do something that goes from a very exceptional. Listening, respect, family, each craftsman, each client is one of the most important values ​of my house.

This is my grandfather, who I was first introduced to the shoe and all that mattered to him. Beyond what would be for him a pair of shoes as he conceived, a suit, a shirt he shared his culture finer things in life, good wine, good food. Which was wonderful in his time, as then through all that my father taught me was that luxury was simple, and true luxury is still very simple. When we make it complicated, it is that you need a product that embellish the center has something to hide. But when a product is sublime, it is sufficient to itself. Restaurants, with simple square table cloths had three Michelin stars. What mattered was not decorum, all that was around but the product. I was raised in this philosophy.

This is not because a shoe sole color that is technically a beautiful shoe. A shoe that is all that can not be seen, then a good shoe form foot before the eye. Lots of passion, beautiful materials and time with one hand before decades of experience. When a product is exceptional, is it necessary to flourish? My father and my grandfather accompanied to this attention to detail. I learned from our production manager often in the evening after dinner, back to his workshop to iron a sole tool to make it even more perfect. It does not it shows. It does for him in his conception of his job, his duty as a craftsman. He does this because he knows it is for a shoe lover beautiful object that gave us confidence. He does it because it gives him pleasure. It is because each of our shoes is signed our name and for me it is an absolute requirement. It is this requirement and the desire to share the pleasure that was given to me. Also, since my childhood, meeting clients among the most outstanding figures in the world … the presidents of republics, large cinema and the international music scene, great characters in various professional sectors and each time to see the largest were the easiest, most friendly … all the craftsman that I is a source instance that pushes me to go into this culture of humility, and the need for truth.

For the culture of shoes, it is a word which I am attached, it was like we’ve talked about the match full of fields. First when you are from a family of craftsmen, life goes on in the workplace from morning to night. I came back after school, when I was young and of course in the morning, afternoon, evening shoes you are talking about, you live shoe again to give pleasure to the faithful. My grandfather, my father accompanied me in this life of shoes and I was trained in workshops in Italy … The store was always an inexhaustible source of learning and my bookish tastes and different cultures have been . What was also important was that many meetings with artisans in my field but also in other areas of craftsman. And there is still humanly rich to see how similarities and differences with your industry you advance. Every day, every encounter, every thought you back as a craftsman in your life when you live for the shoe.

My personal style is obviously borrowing the style of my house. My grandfather wanted from the beginning to create a shoe that resume, which
synthesizes the best of the English shoe, the best Italian shoe with a touch of French taste. Our shoes are the most Italian of English and most English Italian while being very French … After I have also been rocked by a very real creativity but does not spread, a rare but unique originality discreet. I have always admired as a spectator as some watches Patek Philippe, Piaget Altiplano or very discreet but revealing mechanisms of great technical complexity. It’s a bit like that characterizes us. Then the drawings I made ​in recent years have been the Ellipse with lacing that for the first time instead of being right is made of two curves or areas that Sigmund lacing offset. That’s how to describe my style but the size of our house puts us in contact every day with great people in all areas and all our curiosity, is constantly evolving style, in this exchange, continuous mixing, and that we want to share.

What inspires me everything, every encounter, every reading, every customer, every time I open a box in our collections of old shoes, or I take
a pencil to start drawing. We are curious about everything. There is not a long time I had created the Nino with its double lacing after a reading a book about cars. The shoe opened like the hood of a car. A few months ago I asked a supplier sail boat the America’s Cup to have a bit of sailing Carbonne to give it a try. Was born, Niels therefore part of this two eyelets derby is Carbon. Once it was a book about a painter who inspired us lines a very particular model … all the life that surrounds us, all desires are our inspiration. Life is what moves, what I want to live and shoes live at the foot of my clients. Models also my grandfather that we enjoy a rework. My latest creation for lovers of Venice that I am a moccasin inspired when the dough is a mask, we called Lupin tribute to the famous gentleman thief, and this is one of the best seller of the house.

What inspires me therefore, everything that lives, making life and especially the smile of my clients. We have clients who sometimes have everything and yet we still get to surprise them, move them, see them smile and happy
discovering their orders. These shoes on their feet, are the best reward for a day’s work for artisans and we are a source of inspiration for future creation. It may also be what makes that little house were all created in the last 5 years … More than 70 new models … As I said, we are the last house in Paris 100% artisanal and family. Financial point of telling us how to be a shoe. It is we who decide according to our designs, criterion of fun and want to share. So we sign all our shoes our behalf. I agree by signing my own name with the presence of my father
and my grandfather. This is why I love each of my creations. Now if you ask me … Surely models again: Ellipse for its simplicity and originality, wonderful boots with buttons (with hand sewn buttonhole) Lawrence, Crazy Lace with these laces arranged for once in order completely random and report his idea and the recognition it has today (a major star of international cinema told me some time ago: “probably one of the finest in the world moccasin”) on Lupin (by reference to the gentleman thief Arsène Lupin), which is a moccasin so the tab is designed as a mask.

My role is to be like a conductor and both being in all positions of the creation through technical inspection to exchange with our clients to
tailor a loan or shoe, this is essential. This is what makes life so exciting in this house. You know for me in all these positions are human encounters, exchanges, shares, any differences that are as exciting as instructive. I always learned and progressed all my meetings.

In fact we have always been apart even in our coverage. Our strength and were pleased that our technical rare. This ability to provide such in ready to wear with Goodyear welt montages and even the sole request can be sewn by hand. Today we are alone in Paris. Even shoemakers in their line of ready to wear do not offer these technical refinements. Then this possibility offered by our small workshop to create a unique shoe at a price that is not much more expensive than ready to fit elsewhere. Customers even completely redesign their model, so that at the end they have created a unique model in the world that only they have. These two points are true specificity of the house and then also what has rained in the coverage is the style of the house that I was often described as very creative and original while at the same time easy wear dark remark that “just right” and great elegance. Yes the media has mostly raised awareness of the house and its know-how. One of our problems is that many lovers of beautiful shoes, beautiful things sometimes without coverage would not even suspect that Rue Vivienne in Paris, there are still a family, independent, existing and nearly 75 years and realized in our time of that rare quality shoes with all these possibilities.

I’m curious about everything. To not bore your readers just say: Reading, music, photo, I am a big fan of photo and finally everything related to cooking and wines are also always nice human encounters. They are the emotions that affect me and make me move.

I do not allow myself to give advice to your readers who know their desires and their tastes than me. The only thing I could say is to listen to their heart, their desires. Not always trust what a “we fear them say” yes but listen to their heart, what they really like. Listening his heart, follow your instincts, to trust their own wisdom. To meet houses, men and women who make and be guided by these desires, testing, the fact that they are wrong a few times and it just falls most often … In any case houses to look really still working by hand, houses or heart still guides the hand as the foot there really is a difference. Umberto Eco wrote, “Let your heart speak, questioning faces, do not listen to the language” is also valid for shoes.”


Pictures: © Aubercy

~ Originally published on the 1st of November 2011


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"If John Bull turns around to look at you, you are not well dressed; but either too stiff, too tight, or too fashionable".
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