Paula Gerbase readily admits that there is no long-standing connection between herself and Dartmoor. But that doesn’t mean the magnificence of this area of moorland in Southern Devon wasn’t deeply inspiring for her A/W 2016 John Lobb offering.
‘Working on the collection and going to Dartmoor,’ Gerbase reminisced, ‘I just absolutely loved it. The first time I went on this massive tour, there was a strong way that I felt in that environment. There’s something really primitive about it and it’s just beautiful.’
The set, which Thomas Petherick created with Gerbase and took two days to build was a witty study on what a natural environment can look like when combined with human-made elements. ‘I’m working with very natural materials, and my job is to bring them to life,’ explained Gerbase. ‘There’s a certain element of manipulation involved. That’s why I felt like manipulating the natural elements made sense in terms of this presentation.’
A gravel walk way led to a space filled with artificial Tors – heaps of rocks precariously balanced atop each other. Some emerged from white stucco freestanding walls, others were suspended in the air with metal cables.
The footwear, grouped in three ‘families’, sat perched upon them, illustrating how, ‘it’s all about walking; the contact of your sole with the ground’. They all shared a main theme: ‘lightness’, Gerbase summed up. ‘We wanted to make shoes that feel like gloves.’