Bally Has Something to Teach You
Graeme Fidler and Michael Herz are the new guys in town, having been recently appointed creative directors at Bally, after revamping Aquascutum. For Fashion’s Night Out, they’re featuring the work of three students from Central St. Martins. Here’s what they’ve learned, and what they’ve got to teach:
KATHARINE ZARRELLA: You were both named creative directors at Bally this past March. What have been the challenges so far, as compared to your prior work at British heritage label Aquascutum? Any secrets to your ability to work so well together?
GRAEME FIDLER AND MICHAEL HERZ: It’s an exciting time to have joined Bally. We are part of a strong leadership team with a clear vision for Bally’s future and we’re very fortunate in the support we receive. Our roles at Bally are multi-faceted and it’s our combined past experience and knowledge that has brought us to this point in our careers.
We largely see ourselves as editors whose job is to challenge each other’s ideas and design concepts. Our aim is to create a different mood for Bally by unifying and evolving the brand with contemporary, relevant collections. What we love about fashion design is the opportunity to continually break rules, to create and reinvent, over and over.
ZARRELLA: Bally CEO Berndt Hauptkorn has emphasized an increased focus on footwear. Why footwear?
FIDLER AND HERZ: Bally’s shoes are iconic and represent our core business. Accessories and RTW are also important parts of the Bally brand but shoes are at the heart of everything we do. That focus is evident in this autumn’s launch of the Scribe made-to-order service and the special women’s collections, one created by students from Central St Martins another exclusively for our Vienna store.
ZARRELLA: What inspired you to choose “unusual heel shapes” as the concept behind the Bally and Central Saint Martins collection?
FIDLER AND HERZ: It was important that we gave students a focus for the project but that they were free to explore and interpret that concept as they chose. The original fifteen students presented some wonderfully diverse designs and when selecting the final three for the collection, we focused on those with a strong luxury feel and contemporary attitude.
ZARRELLA: Are there ways in which this collection communicates Bally’s Swiss heritage?
FIDLER AND HERZ: Everything we do at Bally communicates that heritage because it’s about excellence in craftsmanship and using the highest quality materials. But Bally is a contemporary, global brand and to remain relevant, it’s important we collaborate with talented creatives from all over the world. The CSM collection has provided an outstanding opportunity to represent Bally from the viewpoint of young designers while applying our heritage of exquisite craftsmanship.
ZARRELLA: What measures did you employ in choosing the three students whose designs you would feature?
FIDLER AND HERZ: Bally is still Bally and of the final three students’ designs chosen for the collection, there needed to be an innate understanding of that mood and an ability to convey it.
ZARRELLA: What can other students learn from this event? What surprised you about the designs?
FIDLER AND HERZ: That dreams do come true! The partnership was a huge success for everyone involved. The students became part of an expert team and were immersed in the “art of shoemaking.” Their level of passion and commitment was truly inspiring and for Bally, it was wonderful to make our craftsmanship visible in such a fresh and very modern way.