bal harbour blog

The sultan of shoes: Jean-Michel Cazabat

Jean-Michel Cazabat and a spire of his shoes.

By Jessica Michault

Jean-Michel Cazabat knows shoes. He started out working with Charles Jordan in the 80s only to move on to Stéphane Kélian where for years he was the president of the brand. He finally launched his own signature shoe collection in 1999 and he has never looked back.

Here, we talk with the dashing footwear designer—whose namesake line is available at Intermix, Bal Harbour.

You have spent your life honoring the feet of women around the world. What fascinates you so much about footwear?
I grew up in the South of France during the 70s, a time when fashion was at a tipping point. The fashions we were bold, fun, and dramatically different from the 60s. This change in fashion is really where my love and passion comes from for design and footwear. I still have an affinity for the 70s and it’s a heavy influence you can still see in my collection today.

You have more then 25 years in the footwear industry what has been the biggest change in your field over that time and where do you see the industry heading?
I think the overall growth the industry has experienced in the last two decades has been the biggest change. From the way we shop and consume trends and fashion, the customer and how their needs and wants have evolved, to the business and how multifaceted it has become have all been significant changes. We are coming off an era of fast fashion where quality has not always been a top priority. Customers now want to buy something they believe in, in the know how and expertise of brand. I think this change in customer’s attitude will shift the industry.

In 2000 you launched your signature brand. What did you feel was missing in the market, the need that your brand fills?
I wanted to take the experience I gained working with Charles Jourdan and Stéphane Kélian, the craftsmanship and know how I learned, and apply it to what I thought was cool and fun. Mixing colorful and metallic hues, glitter finishes, animal prints and exotic skins to create an ultra-feminine aesthetic with an edgy rock ‘n’ roll sensibility.

I know you can design any style of shoe...but if you could only design one type for the rest of your life which kind would it be?
I think it would have to be a pump. The pump has been a standard in women’s shoe since the begging of time and will never go out of style because they make women feel sexy and confident. Playing with color, fabric, textiles, leathers, and all of the details that go into creating a pump is the fun part.

What are the major trends in summer footwear for 2015?
I think you will see a lot of wedges this summer. I have espadrille wedge exclusively at Intermix that is the perfect sandal. The wedge provides comfort and height with a platform and thick wedge evoking the 70s revival that is happening in fashion.

If you could design a pair of customized shoes for just one woman which woman is at the top of your list?
Such a tough question but right now I would have say Rihanna, she is fearless when it comes to fashion, she is constantly changing her look, and is stunning in everything she wears. She has a certain ‘Je ne c'est quoi’!

Are there any shoe rules left, as in footwear faux pas?
The rules of fashion are so liberal and free right now that there is really no such thing as a fashion faux pass. The only thing I do not support is socks with sandals, it really confuses me.

How do you come up with your designs? What is your process? Do you like to design in the morning...late at night in the office?
I’m visual person anything that grabs my attention is what I gravitate to. I was recently in Zanzibar at the Stone Town Market and saw the most beautiful colorful fabric. I fell in love and it became the inspiration for my Resort 2016 collection. My design process is pretty organic; I feel that’s what makes my brand so unique. I design because beautiful things inspire and move me; it is that emotion that drives those early morning and late nights.

What is most important in footwear...comfort or style?
Both! You should be comfortable and stylish which is the ultimate goal when I design my collections. I add extra padding to all of my shoes to provide the most comfort and support; it is why my clients come back to me.


you may also like

Caftan Queen

Marie France Van Damme makes chic look effortless.

Fashion Feed

Gretchen Röehers's whimsical take on Fashion Week.

David Downton: Portraiture Perfection

The British illustrator inks out Fashions most glamorous faces.

Cooking the Books

Chef Missy Robbins dishes on her first cookbook: “Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner… Life!”
back to top