STEPPING OUT: J.M. Weston held a back-to-school celebration on Thursday by gathering friends of the French heritage brand for a dance class.
The event was held at the barracks of the Garde Républicaine, the regiment whose origins date to Napoléon Bonaparte. Weston has been making made-to-measure boots for its cavalry division since the ‘70s, and is preparing to launch women’s boots inspired by the equestrian designs.
Under a blustery sky, guests assembled in a courtyard where a tent was set up for the evening’s Bal Weston: an opportunity for participants to learn dance steps directly from leading choreographers Mathilde Monnier, La Ribot and Asha Thomas.
“I wanted to give you something that money can’t buy,” said Olivier Saillard, artistic, image and culture director of J.M. Weston. A fan of contemporary dance, he’d been planning a dance party since before the coronavirus pandemic and liked the idea of people leaving with some new steps in their repertoire.
“For example, I regret never having been able to learn the steps of Pina Bausch or Merce Cunningham, or Loïe Fuller or Isadora Duncan. Dance is something that can’t be sold, it’s something that is passed down,” he told WWD.
Just half an hour into the event, news of the death of Queen Elizabeth II spread through the crowd. Nonetheless, several dozen guests gamely lined up for the first tutorial by Monnier, to the sounds of the camp French dance track “Louxor J’Adore” by Philippe Katerine.
“Now let’s be clear: we’re all amateurs and all you need to dance is enthusiasm. We’re not talking about performing at the Paris Opera on tiptoes in ballet shoes,” Saillard said. “You have to be very relaxed and just plan to smile through the evening, whether it rains or not.”
Speaking before the news of the queen’s death broke, Saillard said he wanted to offer people a moment of levity to counter the steady diet of negative headlines this fall.
“The world is anxiety-inducing, but if you think about nothing else, I’m afraid we’ll be dancing on embers for the next 50 years. I am worried about the world. I think it’s very alarming. Sometimes, I wonder what kind of role fashion can play in such a context,” he mused. “Nevertheless, even in times of war, you have to raise your head and try to find hope.”