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J.M. Weston Invites

André Saraiva

When André decided to take his first steps in cinema with a short film centered around a pair of shoes, the reunion with J.M. Weston and his artistic director, Michel Perry, is obvious. André was born in Sweden in 1971. He grew up between Paris and Lisbon and appropriated the walls from an early age: “The street has become my studio. Doing graffiti is a way of not being subjected to the city, of taking possession of it. For him, graffiti exists by itself, belonging to the walls as well as to passers-by. His interest in very different worlds and his ability to bring them together have led him to create and collaborate on many international projects. He is also dedicated to the publishing and dissemination of young artists. Today, André divides his life between Paris and New York.

ANDRE SARAIVA

" In America, in the 80's, people used to steal your Air Jordans; in France they would steal your J.M. Westons ! "
tells André, who got inspired by his own teenage memories to make his film debut. By developing a plot around the symbols of the J.M. Weston universe, André chose to invite the Parisian institution into his own imagination. The shoemaker was an especially appropriate partner for André since the film itself hints at the highlights of J.M. Weston's history, such a sthe youth revolt of the 1970's, which have a new edge to Dad's traditional moccasins, and the aesthetes of the 1980's, who treated their shoes as quasi-religious objects. The script gently pokes fun at the myths that surround us and the social and cultural frictions between the bourgeoisie with a false veneer of good behaviour, and rebellious rockers who aren't quite so bad after all. The whole story is set against a backdrop of pretty girls and hordes of Parisians... wearing moccasin !

INTERVIEWED BY MARIE MAERTENS
10 February, 2012
 

How did the idea for this film come about?

I had a first meeting with J.M. Weston when I designed a pair of shoes for them. It went quite well. Then I had this idea for a film in which I talked about my own experience when I was about 20, between the end of the 1980s and the early 1990s. So the aesthetic approach was closely linked to my post-adolescence. Weston shoes have always been iconic. Already at this time they represented a symbol of wealth, as much for yobs as for middle-class boys. The brand became one of the characters of the story, which was built around the idea of having one’s shoes stolen. That happens maybe a bit less often nowadays…

You talk about an aesthetic approach evoking the late 1980s, but the looks (slicked back hair and leather for boys, short kilts and white socks for girls) seem to be even older, don't they?

Yes, you can imagine you’re back in the 1950s or 60s also, but this fashion also existed into the 1980s and it still persists today. The college and preppy looks echo it. I used retro references in the wider sense. I remember that this trendy look was favoured not only by middle-class boys but also by street yobs who wanted to dress well. Just like the snappy dressers who wanted to get some street cred. There was an overlap on both sides

On the subject I get the feeling that you also played with the clichés and the ideas that Americans might have of Paris…

Absolutely, the whole film turns on the look of things, the way an American would see Paris. I did not depict reality as it exists, but my own reality.

Why did you choose those very soft beige and grey tones?

I worked with a Danish cinematographer whose aesthetic approach is typical of his country, especially in this choice of rather neutral colours. They are milky tones evoking autumn and winter. They are also the tones of a difficult start to the day, which fit in very well with the story.

This slowness and the storyline also depict rather contemplative young people…

Yes, because looking is one of life’s pleasures. We’re always told to act, do something, produce, etc. But it’s nice to take time off to dream. It’s more important than success.

Is it cooler to wear one’s Westons without socks, as in the film?

In summer, yes, maybe, but with long socks you look even more chic!

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