Jerome Rousseau: Grounded in luxury shoes

Jerome Rousseau: Grounded in luxury shoes

Los Angeles-based luxury footwear and handbag designer Jerome C. Rousseau celebrates the fifth anniversary of his eponymous label this season.

He marked the milestone earlier this month by cohosting an intimate soiree at the Petit Ermitage with French actress and model Roxane Mesquida, his muse and the star of his ad campaign.

Guests who toasted the occasion included actresses Holland Roden, Krysten Ritter, Madisen Beaty and Haley Bennett; his designs are also worn by Olivia Wilde, Katie Holmes, Scarlett Johansson, Kristen Stewart and Charlize Theron, among others.

Nine years ago, Rousseau and boyfriend Daniel Auber moved to Los Angeles from London, where Rousseau worked with British designers Matthew Williamson, John Richmond and Jasper Conran.

“I came here to visit and explore, and fell in love with the potential of this city,” said Rousseau, clad in a James Long polka-dot button-down shirt, accented with a vintage polka-dot bow tie and leopard-print shoes.

“Cities like London and New York almost feel like they have reached their creative potential. In a city that has a lot of creativity, when it reaches a certain level, it becomes very financial. … So it sort of lacks the core of creativity. … There is so much creative talent coming to our city. We’re in a city now that is changing really quickly and has a lot of untapped creative potential, and it is a real honor to be a part of this team of young people in L.A.”

All of Rousseau’s shoes and handbags are designed in Los Angeles and handcrafted in Italy.

“Jerome has a great eye, with that thorn silhouette of his heel,” said Lisa Bush, owner of Mona Moore boutique in Venice. “He represents the sexy stiletto in our store. His booties are brilliant. They are feminine with a little tough edge, but also playful and girlie. His footwear can sit with any amazing French- or Italian-made shoes. Our clients in Venice pretty much wear Margiela or Marsèll [boots] during the day to pick up their kids or go to the farmers market, but they [almost] all own Jerome Rousseau.”

At the party, Rousseau showcased an elaborate mesh bootie, embellished with 7,000 beads, including coral, vintage Czech glass and freshwater pearls. The $6,495 custom-order piece for spring 2014 is a collaborative design with Los Angeles artist Emily Snyder.

“It’s one of the pieces I’m the most proud of,” he said. “Emily worked for 82 hours beading it.”

Filled with texture and print, such as floral velvet, color-blocking and flocked suede, his fall collection was inspired by insects and Italian photographer Alberto Seveso’s high-speed underwater shots of ink blots that Rousseau compared to “clouds of chiffon fabric in multi-color.”

“A beetle’s shell reminded me of how you protect your foot with a shoe, but it is [also] an ornamentation. … They have these gorgeous patterns and symmetry, metallic shades of green and blue mixed together. The shape of an insect’s shell with the wings coming up also inspired some detailing.”

“We are both very inspired by contemporary art, paintings and music, and so we have a big connection,” said Mesquida, Rousseau’s muse for the past three years. “His inspiration last year was more organic, with insects. That’s why it’s such a rich universe [with Jerome], and I admire him so much. He doesn’t care what’s hip; he’s focused on making a piece of art.”

“Jerome Rousseau designs are based on his inspiration from art, pop culture and international design,” said Erica Russo, fashion accessories director at Bloomingdale’s. “For these reasons, our shoppers love the unique styles of his shoes, which add excitement to a basic ensemble — from the perfect black dress to jeans and a tee.”

As Mesquida put it, “I love his shoes because they are very elegant, very modern, but still feminine. You really feel like a woman when you wear his shoes.”

Jerome C. Rousseau footwear, $495-$1,195, and clutch bags, $495-$795, at and select retailers.