16 Mar 2012


Collaboration invariably provides a unique, transcendent end result.

To that end, companies have often garnered 'partnership' with the art world, and realised many new and brave manifestations of their products. Somewhat left field. Yet every bit an exemplar of both camps. One recent example is that of Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama (currently showing at Tate Modern), and Marc Jacobs of Louis Vuitton. Their “Infinitely Kusama” range launches this July.

In a similar vein, pushing boundaries has allowed me to apply my modus operandi to a number of disparate forms, including cycling shoes. Maybe the aim is a holistic installation piece - wrapping the history of a sport around the apparel which allows one to follow its form. Poetic symmetry. I'd like to think so.

So I am very pleased, and honoured to have been allowed pre-release access to an exciting new product. One which comes ready-infused with such a fine pedigree.

Working on the Rapha Grand Tour shoe was a daunting task. The decoupage needed to sit well with the company ethos. It also had to exist as an embellishment to the already apparent 'beauty' of the raw object, and not speak a different aesthetic language. In addition, much trepidation arose when my usual working method introduced resin-coated sanding papers to fine Yak leather. Not a moment for the faint-hearted. GRAND TOUR was a journey in itself.

As always, rare, original segments of cycling memorabilia have been sourced, and applied around the form. One flank features the line-up of the very first 'Grand Départ' - back on July 1st, 1903, outside the Café Reveil-Matin, Montgeron, France. Eventual inaugural Tour de France winner Maurice Garin can be seen poised at the far right. The fated 1967 Tour is also honoured, with reference to its Stage 13 - Marseille to Carpentras. Here Tom Simpson left his life on the slopes of the Ventoux. Barry Hoban's consequent Stage 14 victory is also present. Merckx, Rivière, and Géminiani feature, among other subtle applications of familiar Rapha branding.

Rapha Chief Executive Simon Mottram has commented "Absolutely gorgeous!".

"Touché," would be my response.

GRAND TOUR will be on show this summer, at my LE TOUR show.