Cosmopolitan, Alexia Aubert is a mum who lives her life at a hundred miles an hour. Having studied with master shoemakers such as Christian Louboutin and Pierre Hardy, she launched her own brand, Solovière, just a year ago. Against all expectations, Alexia came up with a collection for men. As an expert on the market, she realized that there was a real gap and the desire to fill it just came naturally. She and her husband, Matthieu Albertini, are a couple of real socialites who manage to combine a social life in the evenings with family life during the day and still find time to go hunting for key pieces for their interior. She doesn’t hesitate to make the Facett armchair, by the Bouroullec brothers, the centrepiece of the living room. The result has enormous impact, somewhere between a sculpture and a piece of designer furniture. This week, she’s just released a line for children, with the Italian company Pépé. Una meraviglia!
Alexia, can you tell me about how you got to be where you are today?
I’m a shoe designer and I created Solovière a year ago. It’s a shoe brand for men, that now also extends to women’s and children’s footwear. I was lucky enough to start my life in shoes with Christian Louboutin, in 2003, at a time when the team was like a little family. When I left Christian Louboutin and went to Pierre Hardy, I found myself facing a real challenge. Pierre is the best, he’s a design genius and an expert in shoe-making. Two years later, I left to live in New York and work with Oscar de la Renta, the designer to America’s high society. Then, I came back to Paris to start my family. I wanted to carry on travelling and working for international luxury houses. So, that’s why I decided to start my own design studio, to be able to offer my clients my expertise in shoes and help them achieve their footwear projects. I’ve been working for Léonard, Mulberry in London, Pierre Balmain and others.
How long have you lived in this apartment?
I’ve been here since May 2015.
Where do you most like to be?
My favourite room is my bedroom. It’s all white, completely plain, with just our bed, which has a super-thick American-style mattress. It’s a bit like my decompression chamber.
How did you design the different parts of the apartment? Do you have a particular style that you like when it comes to design?
No, we don’t have a particular style. Our furniture is a mix from both our pasts: Matthieu’s things, he’s very aware of objects and collects lamps, ceramics and contemporary art, and my stuff which is more must-have pieces that I fell in love with and brought back from New York or that artist friends have given me. I’d say that what we were looking for was a welcoming and functional space, to make our life comfortable, but without turning our backs on our past lives.
Which is your favourite piece here?
I love our orange flannel Facett armchair from the Bouroullec brothers, it’s amazing to look at – like a sculpture – but still really comfortable to sit in.
Tell us what a typical day is like for you ?
No two days are alike for me. My nearly two-year-old daughter, Philippa, is my alarm clock. We give her breakfast in our bed. It’s a very special and peaceful time, because all three of us are still half asleep. After that, my life as a Parisian mum is non-stop. I drop my daughter off at the crèche, I take the metro and get to my office in Rue du Bac around 10 am. There, I’m back to being the businesswoman and artist. My team and I often go for breakfast at Pain Quotidien in Rue de Varenne. It gives us a chance to catch up on the different projects and share a pleasant experience. Back at the office, the atmosphere is studious – we draw, we colour, we examine materials and discuss our different projects. There’s definitely no shortage of work to be done. The afternoons are devoted to non-stop outside appointments, right across Paris, with the clients for whom I design women’s shoes. On my way home in the evening, I run to the crèche to collect my daughter and then I transform into Shiva. I give her her bath then I finish my work calls while I’m making dinner for my husband. When I’m not travelling in Italy, I’m always out and about.
Could you tell us about your latest project for Solovière?
My desire to design for men came about in early 2014. Because not only is this market not saturated (unlike the market for women), but it’s also virtually a clean slate that lacks innovation. From then on, it was the typical Parisian man, slim and nonchalant, that I had in mind. He’s never over the top, and intelligently mixes vintage style with a preppy look. He was my first inspiration for Solovière. With my new designs, I look for simplified lines, with fewer panels, softly rounded foot shapes, new ways of lacing, supple materials and a more varied range of colours. I believe that men need new classics. Shoes that can be worn from one season to the next and that men really like. Designs that they can wear for years and that even their wives will want to pinch. Today, we’re proud that our shoes are sold by Colette and by Le Bon Marché in Paris, and by Totokaelo (and soon Barneys) in the USA!
Which artist inspires you the most?
I love the work of Mathias Kiss and his faceted Froissé mirrors and his gilded mouldings. We were introduced by a good mutual friend and now Mathias wears Solovière shoes.
Your favourite places in Paris?
I love our neighbourhood. I recommend dinner at the bar at the Braisenville in Rue Condorcet, the 22 Milton gallery, where we pick up our design objects, a drink at Professore in Rue Choron, and for children, the Botou shop in Rue Milton.
The worst example of bad taste to be avoided at all costs?
Overdone interior design that follows new trends too slavishly in cheap materials.
Credits : Constance Gennari @thesocialitefamily