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Clergerie, Robert

CLERGERIE, Robert

French footwear designer

Born: 18 July 1934, in Paris, France. Education: École Superieure de Commerce, Paris. Career: Manager, then designer, Xavier Danaud, of the Charles Jourdan factory, 1970s; purchased men's shoe company, Fenestrier, 1978; designed the first Robert Clergerie women's shoe line, 1981; established Clerma Company, for the opening of the first Robert Clergerie store, 1981; Lyon, Toulouse, and Paris Place des Victoires stores opened, 1982; J. Fenestrier men's store in Paris opened, 1983; franchise opened in Tokyo, 1986; New York store opened, 1987; Madrid and Brussels stores opened, 1988; London store opened, 1989; represented by 17 stores in France, six abroad, and three licensees in Japan, 1992; opened Los Angeles store, 1994; centenary of the firm, 1995; Clergerie sells majority of his shares, 1996; New York store transferred to Madison Avenue, 1996. Awards: Footwear News Designer of the Year, 1987, 1990.

Publications

On CLERGERIE:

Books

Stegemeyer, Anne, Who's Who in Fashion, Third Edition, New York,1996.

Articles

"Bandals Galore," in Newsweek, 21 May 1984.

Infantino, Vivian, "Clergerie Hears the Pitter Patter of Sandals for the Winter Season," in Footwear News, 23 May 1994.

Baber, Bonnie, et al., "The Design Masters," in Footwear News, 17April 1995.

"Clergerie, Furla Launch Units on Mad Avenue," in WWD, 18 June 1996.

"Clergerie Takes Madison," in Footwear News, 25 November 1996.

Weisman, Katherine, "The Romans Empire," in Footwear News, 1September 1997.

***

Robert Clergerie's shoes exhibit a sense of style and class equivalent to the artistic impression of a painter's sculpture. But for Clergerie, shoes are not made solely for fashion; shoes are made for walking. While paying close attention to technique and detail, his designs stress purpose and comfort. The grace and practicality of Clergerie's shoes have led him to be named the "functionalist" of shoe fashion. With respect to practicality, many men and women are drawn to Clergerie's shoes because he successfully designs stunning, functional shoes that can be worn in today's career-oriented society.

Clergerie uses a three-part design crtieria when introducing a new line: first, each proposed item needs to be within the scope of the manufacturer's expertise; second, as a designer Clergerie must have the right idea at the right timeanticipating what his customers want, a year in advance; and third, he has to be the only designer creating within a particular area, to offer his clientéle unique, beautiful items. Clergerie believes his simplistic design technique is the only way to success and excellence in shoemaking. He has said that the stronger the idea, the simpler the design, and therefore, the less need for ornamentation. Clergerie's designs are not complicated with adornments, but are simple and chic. This has made him one of the most influential shoe designers of his time, and his designs have had a marked influence in the fashion arena.

In 1981, for example, Clergerie debuted his line with lace-up oxfords, a man's shoe made for a woman that has since become an essential item to wardrobes. He also designed the raffia sandal in 1992 and the parallelogram heel in 1984. Since then, cobblers have imitated the parallelogram heel and call it the Clergerie heel. In 1994, to be unconventional, he designed sandals for the winter season because, as he stated, he had a "feeling for sandals in the winter." To accommodate the cold weather, the sandals were designed to be worn with big, thick socks. Clergerie went on to design the horn-shaped heel in 1989 and his metal heel in 1993, which was the inspiration for the spike heel.

Clergerie is inspired by the world; it is where he receives his originality and the innovation of his designs. As he lives his life, he takes on the world and engulfs all aspects of it. He pays close attention to the details, such as architecture, food, and the breeze felt from a motorcycle ride. He encompasses all of life's joys and arranges them into his designs, giving Clergerie shoes their stylish beauty, individuality, and simplicity.

Kimbally A.Medeiros

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