Interview with ADIEU Shoes Designers
The Paris shoe brand you need to know now

Who Are Adieu Shoes Designers

From APC to The Kooples, French streetwear labels have long had a firm grip on our wardrobes. Latest in line is Adieu shoes. With stockist including SSENSE, oki-ni and Dover Street Market, it’s time to learn more.

Isabelle Guedon and Benjamin Caron Adieu shoes’ designers met at 13 and 14 years old. While it took 10 years for the couple to start dating, they knew even at that young age that they would one day launch a shoe label. Benjamin was obsessed with brothel creepers and noticed flaws in the pairs he purchased. He soon started making his own handmade creepers.

In 2012, Benjamin and Isabelle launched their Paris based brand Adieu shoes. Since then, they’ve been making shoes that are all heart and sole…

Why did you decide on the name ADIEU? 

Isabelle: It came from a poem, “The Cobbler” by Stéphane Mallarmé: He would recreate shoes, Oh God! if only you’d wish! “

“Oh God” in French is “Ah Dieu”, which made us think of “Adieu” / “Farewell”. This word has a real romantic, timeless and poetic dimension that we wanted for our shoes.

adieu shoes interview
Adieu Shoes

Isabelle, you worked for Alber Elbaz at Guy Laroche and also at Yves Saint Laurent, as well as the director of The Textiles Design Department at Les Arts Déco of Paris. Please walk me through your career path? 

Isabelle: These two parts of my career built me.With Alber, it was such a strong trust that I really developed all my capacities next to him. Also, this gave me the desire to express my own designs after several years working there.

Les Arts Deco had always been a dream to me when I was a child and especially for textile design. I’ve always been obsessed by textures, colours, proportions, patterns, technique – and this is all about textiles! Then, several years after graduating in my textile design courses, I was really proud to get back to school to be on the other side of it and share my experiences. I created a special course about material design and was also following the students for their diploma project.

adieu shoes

Benjamin, can you tell me more about your career trajectory? 

Benjamin: I don’t have any professional career in fashion or shoe design. I have always designed shoes, specifically creeper style shoes while I was professionally working in some different universe like teaching tennis, technical drawing, and others. I also designed luxurious parlour game sets for a brand that was called Deuce.

Even as teenagers you knew you wanted to launch a shoe label. How did you end up making the dream a reality in 2012? 

Isabelle: Actually, Benjamin did hand-made shoes when he was young and arrived in Paris. So he was already in it. But it was hand-made creepers shoes – not so easy to find you customers! Then we had a long unexpected [time] in games and furniture design, all hand-made with the hand-made shoes techniques. Looking back, we’re sure that this was necessary and on purpose in order for us to have the maturity for our “real” project, Adieu!

adieu shoes

Benjamin, you used find flaws with the creepers you bought. How do you critique Adieu shoes? Is every season an improvement? 

Benjamin: They don’t always look strictly like I would like, but I try not to be too in despair about it. I just try to make everything right and tell things clearly to the factory, so I get more satisfaction with the final result each season. But perfect or not to my eyes, there is something authentic in them that customers can feel.

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Isabelle, women can obviously wear the shoes too. Caroline de Maigret frequently is spotted wearing them. What advice can you give to women who are maybe hesitant to pull off the shoes? 

Isabelle: They should just try them! Once you feel the strength of men shoes on your feet, and you’re lifted by the minimalistic and radical design of them, then, you realize that it gives you a noble attitude and you get addicted!

adieu shoes

What is new for AW16 and what inspired your AW16 collection? 

Isabelle: We got inspired by Hans Bellmer dolls and industrial world that we brought into today’s world. We did some more “cosmics” designs and used industrial felt like Joseph Beuys.

Isabelle, what does Benjamin bring to the team? 

Isabelle: He has a strong aesthetic sense and a very personal universe that gives a singular creative force and this gives the uniqueness of our brand. He is at the same time an artist and a designer which make an efficient balance between creativity and manufacturing process.

adieu shoes

What are Benjamin’s weaknesses?

Isabelle: He is a very radical guy! So I must say it is also a strength, because it brings a real sharpness to Adieu. But I need to balance sometimes…

Benjamin, what does Isabelle bring to the team or what are her strengths? 

Benjamin: She gives something more light and sweet to the final style. If that depended only one me, the shoes would come in black only! Isa is the more efficient person you can imagine in terms of work and organisation. Adieu couldn’t exist without her.

adieu shoes

What are Isabelle’s weaknesses? 

Benjamin: A little tendency to say yes even if shes feels no…

I know you have a daughter. How old is she?

Isabelle: Leone is almost 8 years old and has the same dark humour than her father and I am very proud of her!

Would you make children’s shoes?

Isabelle: Yes definitely, a shoe brand for kids could be launched in the future. I already found the name and logo for it.

What’s next for both of you? 

Isabelle: A very, very long Adieu together!

adieu shoes

Interview: Janine Leah Bartels

Photos: Courtesy of Adieu