Originally Posted by Abraxis
Do any of you know where CCP boots are produced? I figure augusta/ma+/av/carpe/layers use a similar maker given this blog article + carpe diem ties.
Sad situation too! One of you should go and apprentice themselves to this dude ;p Oh yeah Layer-0 has some good stuff too. I wouldn't mind the non-rubber band derbies.
Good question- I read some where that Simone (Augusta) stuff is all made in-house, down to the sole. No sure about the other brands.
Here is the HLorenzo
Interview by Kevin Y.
H.Lorenzo interviewed Simone Cecchetto, the singular designer and creator of the artisanal leather line Augusta. Lauded for its rumpled, old-world leather footwear crafted from exotic hides, Augusta provides special leatherworks to the H.Lorenzo boutiques. Simone Cecchetto constructs every shoe by hand and even cultures his own leather, distinguishing himself as one of the most passionate leather artisans today. Below are excerpts from a meeting at our boutiques in Los Angeles.
- Square One -
( Words by Simone Cecchetto )
"I never studied to design shoes. I studied, worked, and evolved through 3 years of self-study. In 3 years, I explored all the possibilities for shoemaking, starting with the stitch. Then I was able to start designing a collection. The first collection used with a simple stitch - a blake stitch - and then in every successive season I tried to develop new shapes, develop new styles, and develop new ways of stitching.
Regarding the shape, I experimented with a square shape, a round shape, etc. I think every season I develop 10, 20 shapes in research. But when finally I go to Paris for the presentation, I think I present only about 2 or 3 new shapes. And so before, the research for the shape is incredible. I study and I find inspiration from many different sources. There was one artist...what was his name? I think it was Norman Rockwell an illustrator for the New York Times maybe 70 years ago. I found this old book of Norman Rockwell and it served as inspiration. I don’t remember if it was the first or second collection I did, but I was also inspired by Japanese manga. And so for every season my inspiration evolves and I'm led to develop new shapes. I develop for the moment and my design is spontaneous. I design for the inspiration i find in just one minute, it’s crazy. People can’t understand why when they go to the showroom they see so many variations of shape - there's one a little bigger and another one just a little bit smaller. But all these variations are just for me. Because I design so I can be satisfied, and so I need to explore all the different possibilities of shapes. My designs are probably good for one day, but not for the next. So the work in the back is incredible – for the leather, for the shape, for all, it’s very complicated to develop one pair of shoes. It’s super complicated. I always start with the leather - I study the leather hides, then I select one and experiment with it, try it, feel it, and explore all its tactile properties. I always search for the perfect leather. After selecting the leather, then I can concentrate on developing the shoes, starting with studying the shape, but also how the leather molds to the desired shape.
- Full Circle -
I spend all day working on my shoes. Because I have to think about how to develop a shape, how to develop a pattern, and how to mold the leather, and then creating a prototype, I don't have time to think about other parts of my collection. For all the (labels), it is very cool in this moment to say it is handmade. But not all of them (labels) are real handmade. To be considered genuine handmade, shoes must be handmade in every part. This takes a lot of time. For example, my heels. For many labels, the heel is just one solid block. But my heel is constructed of layered leather. I never explained this to the client but it’s important for them to understand why it’s expensive. So for the heel I use layers of leather, and for the sole I use two soles – one inside and one outside. So you can understand why when you go to the store it’s expensive. Handcrafting ensures that a shoe can be incredibly strong, but the construction is also very expensive. It’s not simple, you know, the shoes are not simple.
After selecting the leather and developing the shape, I then decide how to treat the leather. I do all of these treatments myself. For the prototype, doing everything manually is ok because I'll produce maybe 10 prototypes. But when I produce the collection for stores, I make maybe 800 shoes all myself and all by hand. So it’s a very long process for me. Especially because the last collection I also decided to culture the leather myself. Now I don’t buy the leather in a tannery, but I buy the leather hide with the original hair still there. And then I tan the hide myself because I don't feel that I can develop my persona with leather just bought from a tannery. I tried to develop new types of tans using oils. See, before I used to buy it in the tannery but see the problem is every design you buy is the same. So I think this is the only solution.
Ever since the first season, my collection has always been wholly about handcrafting the shoes. Through my collection, I want to communicate to people what handmade goods are like. It's not about branding the name, but about something you can feel and inspect. I want people to be able to look at my work and try to understand the construction. When people put on my shoes, I want them to not to be putting on the new avant-garde shoes, the new "very cool" or fashion shoes. It’s only simple shoes, it’s handmade shoes, with simple old-world construction. And when you put it on, I want you to have comfort – but comfort not only for your foot when you walk, but also for your mind, for your feeling - something that feels natural. I tried to work in the story of shoemaking, not in fashion. These shoes are very “old” shoes.
- Leather As Skin -
Probably what’s more interesting for me is starting from the leather. I studied the history of art and I studied body art. I studied how to work with leather, as if it were a skin on the artist. With my background in body art, which makes use of skin, I became very interested in leather. When it comes to using leather, I think the first step is footwear because it's used everyday for both protection and for balance. I think the feet are very important to humans, and so my interest in shoes ensued. But more compelling than the thought of shoes themselves is the idea of leather. I create leather shoes but I also want to develop protection and skin for other parts of the body in leather. So for me, yes I always wanted to design shoes because I liked shoes and because in Italy it’s a very important work to be making shoes, and now it’s a famous tradition, so I’m very happy for it. But my interest in principal is working with the leather.
My idea (about animal leather) is that it is like a second skin. I love the idea of the human skin which is like leather. I worked for an artist in Spain; he is an artist with a very strong work in body art, it’s very compelling. I love this path of art; it's a live art. The art is all very strong, I don’t know, some people like it, some people don’t like it because it’s very strong – they use the blood, they cut the bodies. Well this man, he developed a very nice work of human form and shape in animal leather – pig leather. Because the pig leather is very similar to the human skin, so when you wash the leather, and you trap the pigments, the pores are very similar to the human pores. I’m very fascinated about these properties of leather.
- A Sartorial Lineage -
I worked before for Carpe Diem. And I’m a friend of Maurizio – before I began working for Maurizio I was a friend of Maurizio. I worked for this artist in Barcelona, who’s a friend of Maurizio Altieri from Carpe Diem, and in this same moment he (Maurizio) developed a new project called Linea and Sartoria. When you move the body, he used an electronic machine to communicate with a computer, and he studied the movement of different objects in this type of digital experimentation. So I think it was a very interesting work because in this moment Maurizio developed Linea and Sartoria, and in Sartoria you have a project called the “Second Body” in leather, the second leather - most notably, the jumper for the men. So we studied the muscles of men very carefully. We studied the second skin for this artist, the second leather, and we put an electronic chip inside the jumpsuit for sending digital images so we could study the movement of the performing artist while he wore a jumpsuit from Linea. We studied the change in leather as he moved, and we studied the muscle dynamics while he performed. And also the first idea when he developed the Linea and Sartoria was very, very avant-garde. When he developed Linea, it was too much for the client at the moment. Maurizio can see probably in the future.
And I think the best idea for explaining Linea to the people is to use the body, because the body is a representative of you. It’s like a tattoo. When you put a tattoo in your skin, it displays your story. For me the leather is incredibly strong, it's very captivating, and when I see Linea I think it’s a very strong project. And for people to understand this story, I think the only solution is a new way, and I think the art and this project is a new way. I started to work with him to help explain the collection Linea, and then I worked in other interesting projects like creating the leather shoes for Carpe Diem.
- Prototypes -
When I decided to develop the leather jacket – my idea of a jacket is that it is a mix of a shirt and jacket in leather because the construction is similar to a shirt. I love a lot of pockets, so I tried to develop a shirt with a lot of pockets. For this reason, I studied the cutting of the natural motion of someone putting their hand into their pants pockets. I wanted to make it ergonomic, natural. So it’s complicated, because the difficulty of this jacket is that when you use one piece of a big leather without a cut, it is difficult to put in the leather the pattern, but I think it’s nicer for the construction. And I used a different stitch. To develop the stitch I used a very small machine. I also used the kudu leather – the kudu is very similar to the deer. But normally this leather is used only for the shoes because it’s a super thick leather. So I tried another treatment for developing the kudu to be used for the jacket, because otherwise it's too stiff and too heavy for a jacket. I used a new treatment to make it lighter, and I cut the layer of leather a bit more to make the movement more natural. The jacket in this leather was the first step for me, and in the future I want to work more in making jackets.
I will tell you of the transparent leather for this season. The transparent leather is a pig leather...I developed only 7 pairs of shoes for women in the world. Also the sole is transparent and the heel is transparent. It's impossible to close, because I can only use stitching and wooden nails, not metal nails. The nails alone cost 40 euros. After hammering a wooden nail into this porous leather, I then crushed the wooden nail so it would get caught inside and effectively close the pore. The explosion inside stops the wood nail in the leather. It's super complicated to develop the sole, because making the leather transparent compromises its strength since it's so porous. It's not a real finished product because it's like a sponge in the water. It's nice visually, but it's not good for real shoes...it's more an image, an object, but not real shoes. It takes 6 months to wash the sole, and it closes the pores in the sole, waterproofing the leather. It's a very special work, a very very complicated work, but it just represents the type of experimentation I do with leather.
- Finding Balance -
Earlier I worked for Rick Owens - for the collections Revillon and Rick Owens (mainline) - and then I decided to go a different way because my idea of shoes was completely different altogether: for Rick it was more avant-garde…more plastic, there was a different idea about it. For Rick, the women's shoes take priority. And work for the women's shoes is very different than work for the men's shoes. For this reason, I never developed real shoes for a woman, because it's a completely different work. Rick loves work with the high heel, so I decided that we have different ideas about shoes, so i thought it was time to start my own collection. I liked working with Rick because he's a very nice guy. I tried to develop high heels in leather but it's complicated...normally for women's high heel they use plastic in the heel, but if you want a high heel in leather it's not right. I tried different solutions, like putting metal in the heel to make it stronger, but the balance with metal and leather wasn't right. My woman's shoes are very much like the men's. I work for the woman as well, but these are shoes for the men. I think sometimes women are very beautiful with the guy's shoes too. After that I stopped work and I tried for a moment this collection (Augusta), and presented it in Paris. 2006 was the premier season – it was a super small collection. I think for my first collection i developed high boots for woman, and i think it's very nice.
- Labor of Love -
I live and work in Rome, and I work in a small space, a very, very small space. Before, I worked in a village close to Rome, which is close to where I lived. It wasn't easy because it was very far from my leather source. So in the beginning, I'd go to Tuscany to work in the tannery every week, and then I'd come back to Marciano where I finish my work. In the future, I will probably change this location to make my life more simple.
For the production, it’s automatic. But it’s very heavy for my hands, because when I finish the production it’s very uncomfortable for my hands, because I don’t have help and I need very, very fast work. So I wake up in the morning at 6:00 in the morning and I don’t have time until I go to sleep – 2:00 at night, I don’t know? I put my all in to my work – work, work, work. The difference is that when you develop the new collection it’s heavy because you think, and the problem is more imperative for the mind, not for the body; the production is more imperative for the arms and for my hands.
I'm tired. I'm really tired. The work in the back is completely different, sometimes heavy. My work is very very heavy. When I buy the animal, I buy it with hair, and you have the blood, you have it all. Sometimes i think it's super heavy. I do it all. I think of the collection, I produce all of it, and my wife and I sell it. So, it's not simple. I hope people will understand this. Sometimes I think it's time to stop because I can't do all this work completely by myself. Then I look at my shoes, and I think...I love my work too much and so I'll find the energy to continue my work because I love it. I'm tired, but I'm very happy because not many people in reality can really love their work. For me, it's very important. It's my life. It's really my life."