Jerome C. Rousseau is a luxury shoe designer based in Los Angeles. The Quebec-born designer honed his skills while attending London’s Cordwainers College and working alongside designers Matthew Williamson, John Richmond and John Rocha. Rousseau launched his namesake line in 2008, and was awarded the prestigious “Who Is On Next” accessories prize by Vogue Italia in 2010. Rousseau’s distinctive creations, influenced by modern art, European design, pop culture and nightlife, have been extensively featured in Vogue, Elle, Harper’s Bazaar and Style.com and worn by celebrities including Scarlett Johansson, Katie Holmes, Olivia Wilde and Miranda Kerr.
You’re originally from Canada, and your shoes are handmade in Italy. Are you based in Europe full-time?
I was born in Quebec and moved to London after college to study Footwear Design at Cordwainers College. I ended up living in the UK for ten years before moving to Los Angeles, where I am now based. It is a long way to Italy, where my designs are manufactured. It was an important decision to work with Italy, and I love living in Los Angeles, so I can’t be complaining about the long trips.
You apprenticed with multiple designers before launching in 2008. How important do you think it is to study alongside another designer before launching your own collection?
It was a crucial learning experience, and it allowed me to gather the solid knowledge and experience I needed to get my label off the ground. The success of my label doesn’t only rely on presenting compelling collections, but also on having the skills to juggle with the business elements too. I love my work and feel really privileged to have this passion!
When did you introduce handbags?
We launched handbags with a curated collection of clutches and evening pieces for Spring 2013. I love them! They are fun, covetable items — they feel like little jewels that you want to carry around. It was a great design exercise to give the handbags the same design aesthetics that I developed for my footwear. The response has been exceedingly strong from our stores and customers, so I’m hugely proud of the launch!
I love your logo! Was the intention to appeal to women’s playfulness when discovering your brand and shoe shopping?
I’m glad you noticed the logo; I also love it and worked really, really hard on it. When I started the label, it was important to me to develop a logo that sums up the artfulness of the label I was creating. I wanted the logo to be fun, playful and arty, but to also have a glamorous connotation. I think the end result looks like a Parisian artist drank too much absinth and stumbled back into the studio after watching girls dancing at the Moulin Rouge and signed his name on a huge canvas. What’s great is that the logo resonates with our customers. Customers often tell me that they love the logo.
How does the font represent your designs and/or brand
The font is actually a hand painted signature that I did, scanned and reworked to make it perfect. It has a lot of spontaneity, elegance and mystery — all qualities I hope to find in my shoes, too.
Many celebrities wear your shoes. Do you have a girl in mind when you design?
I am lucky that my favorite celebrities have worn the label. My favorites are Charlize Theron, January Jones and Kristen Stewart. That being said, French actress Roxane Mesquida is the muse of the label, she really embodies the essence of the Jerome C. Rousseau brand. I am honored to have Roxane be the face of our upcoming AW13 collection.
What do you think makes the relationship between women and their shoes so different from their relationship with other wardrobe pieces?
Shoes are real objects of seduction. Women have learned to use footwear to express themselves and certain traits of their personalities. I think it creates a very special and sensual relationship, and it’s almost a weapon — it gives them confidence and helps express their character.
Which designers do you love seeing your shoes paired with?
Alexis Mabille, Prabal Gurung, and Peter Pilotto.
Where do you see your brand in 5 years?
I want to see the label evolve to offer a broader selection across women’s shoes and handbags, with a flagship store to showcase the entire seasonal collections. And on the feet of each of your readers!