Serge Ruffieux diverted yards and yards of silk canvas and miles of velvet ribbons and silky cords from the incinerator, drafting these surplus, deadstock materials to create eye-catching flat shoes that are squishy, occasionally sparkly — and always craft-intensive.
“Light, playful and not too serious,” was how he described the first designs under his new accessories brand 13 09 SR, which will be available for pre-order from today on his new e-store, and then arrive in about a dozen specialty stores, including 10 Corso Como in Milan, early next year.
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“Another priority for me is comfort,” he said, showing off the padded shoe beds and supple, pebbled rubber soles of his fringed moccasins, pointy mules and puffy sandals.
With their twisted and scrunched silk straps bound in ribbons, cords and rhinestones, Ruffieux’s shoe designs have a DIY aspect that he acknowledged is difficult to realize, given how industrialized footwear manufacturing has become.
Yet he and business partner Emile Faure insisted on using as few virgin materials as possible, amassing deadstock leather, jacquards and silks for shoes; eco-friendly acetate for eyewear, and deadstock crystals and beads for bedazzled versions of the neoprene sunglass straps surfers wear.
Shoes are to retail from 390 to 790 euros, sunglasses from 280 to 435 euros and straps from 190 to 470 euros. French optician Marc Le Bihan — the launchpad for the likes of Linda Farrow and Jacquemus eyewear — has the bricks-and-mortar exclusive for the sunglasses.
Footwear is manufactured in Italy and Romania, while the eyewear is realized by a small, family-run firm in Cortina, Italy.
Ruffieux, who wrapped a three-season stint as creative director of Carven in 2018, made an impression there with inventive, festive shoes festooned with tassels, pom-poms and color — an aesthetic that carries over into the 13 09 SR project, named after his birthdate and initials.
Ruffieux first came to the industry’s attention following the 2015 exit of Raf Simons from Dior, when he became co-artistic director with Lucie Meier for a few seasons. He worked for Dior for eight years, rising to head designer of Dior’s women’s ready-to-wear and haute couture studios, and before that spent five years at Sonia Rykiel.
His cofounder Faure was formerly a journalist at Le Figaro who now takes care of the business and communications at 13 09 SR, a side project for Ruffieux, who also ghost designs collections and store concepts for a large, established Chinese fashion retailer.
Ruffieux has been teasing the brand spirit on 13 09 SR’s Instagram account, posting limbs bound with ropes and a diverse cast of youngsters showing lots of skin. Campaign images by Zachary Handley highlight the unvarnished look, and playful spirit, of the shoes.
Ruffieux said he has no fixed ideas regarding the next category he and Faure might launch, though he recently mused that lipstick would fit into their concept of “happy purchases.” They’ve already started work on the fall 2022 collection of shoes and sunglasses.