Didier van Cauwelaert
On the occasion of the 120th anniversary of the J.M. Weston Manufacture, editor "Le Cherche-Midi" released "J.M. Weston", written by Didier Van Cauwelaert. The book tells the special ties between the author and the house. Awarded by the Goncourt prize for Un Aller Simple, Didier Van Cauwelaert is the author of 25 novels, translated in 30 languages.
J.M. WESTON, A FRENCH STORY
A novelist is certainly the best choice to tell the extraordinary story of a Limoges shoe company which adopted an English name and became the symbol of Parisian elegance.
We discover how, over the years, the painter Maurice Utrillo, the novelist Marcel Aymé, the singer Barbara, the actor Philippe Noiret and many others, made unique contributions to the ‘Weston spirit’. The history includes French presidents, notable figures of the Roaring Twenties, members of the post-war Drugstore gang, and a multitude of anonymous enthusiasts whose lives, like the destiny of the author himself, were changed by these extraordinary shoes. This is the story of the twentieth century seen from a viewpoint where fit and endurance are supremely important. Yet this book is essentially an informative yet entertaining narrative in praise of craftsmanship, exacting standards, timeless beauty, and the rebellious imagination of creators who put ‘reason at the service of their dreams’.
For its 120th anniversary, J.M. Weston opened its town house in Avenue Iéna, Paris, to the public to present the book "J.M. Weston", written by Didier van Cauwelaert to celebrate this anniversary and published by Cherche Midi. Some chapters of the book were staged, poetically illustrating the author's words, such as an arrangement of glass bells recalling the “Club des Cloches” [Bell Club] mentioned in the book (the symbol of the bell is affixed on the sole of the shoe when a pair of J.M. Weston shoes is re-soled in the factory). A room dedicated to the "Chant des Artisans" [Song of the Artisans] portrayed the daily life of the factory, with a soundtrack made for this purpose in the Limoges workshop by Marc-Antoine Beldent. The period of the «Drugstore Gang» was also showcased in the building, with a 1960s’ style “Drugstore Bar”, where the film «La Bande du Drugstore», by François Armanet, was shown. In addition to these installations, there was book-signing session with the writer and the book’s illustrator, Julien Roux, made a few portraits of guests "wearing Westons".