The Bally Design Duo Takes Miami
By Laurie Brookins
|Michael Herz and Graeme Fidler at the Bally Hosts Bally Love installation and pop-up shop in the Moore Building in Miami’s Design District last December.|
Graeme Fidler and Michael Herz have experienced nothing less than a whirlwind since signing on as co-creative directors of Bally in April 2010, but they readily agree that one undeniable highlight came courtesy of a few stolen moments in the Miami sunshine.
“It was the first time in Miami for both of us and was absolutely fabulous,” Herz says. “Of course, we were there only about four days, and between the parties and the appointments in galleries, our time sitting in the sun was very brief. But all we could think was that back in Europe, it was very much winter.” Herz and Fidler trekked to Miami last December for Bally Love, an art installation and Design District pop-up shop that focused on the opticinspired paintings of artist Philippe Decrauzat, accented, of course, by equally graphic accessories.
“That was the first real global event for us,” Fidler notes. “By the time we came on board, Bally had already signed on for the project, and of course we fully endorsed it and agreed on the collaboration, because it was a perfect opportunity for us to help Bally become credible and relevant. It was a brilliant pop-up store that was very well-received.”
Indeed, it’s the success of that venture—more than the lure of the South Beach sun—that finds the pair eager to return to the art fair in early December, this time designing a capsule collection around a painting by Swiss artist Olaf Breuning. “Olaf created a work especially for Basel, and we took inspiration from that piece for a small collection of shoes, bags and accessories,” Herz explains. “His work is very colorful, with a slight sense of humor, so it will add a nice twist to the product.”
Imbuing the ultraclassic Bally ideal with a twist of fashion-forward edge is key to the pair’s intentions for the label, which is celebrating its 160th anniversary since the moment Carl Franz Bally opened a Swiss leather-goods house in 1851. “We knew from the outset that we were going to ultimately take the brand’s DNA and mix it with ours to create a new spirit of Bally,” says Fidler, who with Herz had achieved a similar goal with their previous gig as creative directors of the UK-based label Aquascutum. “The pressure we really put on ourselves was one of balance—to respect that there was a substantial business there that we didn’t want to compromise, but that we wished to bring to the brand a new energy and spirit that could help it grow.”
The anniversary collection likewise strives for that balance. “When you’re celebrating anniversaries that are quite important, you don’t want it to be heavy,” Herz notes. “Of course you want an emphasis on craftsmen and quality and workmanship, but we also wanted there to be a lightness, to introduce color and something a bit more fresh.”
photograph by marc dimov/patrickmcmullan.com