Originally educated in fine art (during which time he also studied dance), a subsequent job assisting a shoe designer led to a position at the bastion of French haute couture, Christian Dior, in 1988, where he designed the footwear for four years. During that time, Hardy was also appointed by that other quintessentially French luxury house Hermes in 1990 to produce its women's and then men's footwear, and in 2001 he was asked to take on its fine jewellery range. That year also saw the beginning of the creative partnership that was to confirm Hardy's reputation not only as a craftsman of classic, artisanal leather goods but also as an innovative talent among the fashion community. In 2001, the Balenciaga creative director, Nicolas Ghesquiere, invited him to collaborate on the striking footwear that has played such an important part in galvanising Balenciaga's reputation as the most progressive design house in Paris. One look at their extraordinary Open Toed Cage Sandals With Ankle Pads, as featured in the house's current magazine ads, resplendent in their primary colours and extreme, "techno-Meccano" construction, should tell you that Hardy's aesthetic ambition extends far beyond creating comfy courts for bourgeois ladies.

Pierre Hardy launchen his own-name brand of shoes and now bags in 1999.

For 21 years, Hardy has served as the art director of Sequoia, a French handbag and luggage company known for its streamlined styles. While his involvement may not have been kept purposefully under wraps, it has definitely flown under the radar.

Pierre Hardy also designed for Gap for six seasons.

The Look

Pierre Hardy likes a long, lean silhouette, perched high on arched shoes. His heels, frequently stilettos, are authoritative. Avoiding references in the quest for timeless elegance, Pierre Hardy favors classic materials : box calf, patent leather, kid. Taking a selective stand even with an often-narrow color range, Pierre Hardy regularly sticks to black and white. Pierre Hardy creates footwear comparable to miniature architecture with clean lines and sculptural volume that tend towards simplicity. The result is a strong style that is equal parts graphic and sensual.

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