Bertrand Mak’s Favourite Sauvereign Styles Involve Little Twin Stars and 24K Gold Leafs
Tatler Lister and owner of shoe brand Sauvereign (formerly R. Sanderson) Bertrand Mak is looking to create the “Birkins of shoes.” The former watch specialist at Christie’s also spent time under the LVMH group and takes his experience to Sauvereign, where he’s infusing 24K gold leaf and other intricate forms of artistry onto “gems” or plaques on pumps to create jewellery for the feet. Here are his favourite styles and the inspirations behind them.
Having been exposed to the world of mechanical watches and classical music at a very young age (not exactly an orthodox pairing, I know), I have always had an eye for the devil in the details. I yearn to understand how art, in whatever form, can transcend time and be immortal.
With Aphrodite, my first bag collection, I embarked on another journey of challenging the status quo to create an everyday object that embodies both form and function, that can transcend time. For over a year I kept my head down on perfecting the line and shape to ensure this new creation would not become a one day in the sun fashion accessory. I was enormously fortunate to have discovered hugely talented artisans who made it possible for Aphrodite to not only be fully handmade, but fully hand-stitched in France using the century-old and fading saddle stitching technique.
There is a living person who spends hours stitching every thread on my bags, giving each one soul—I find that very emotional, like music or poetry. The lock mechanism and handle system, invented by yours truly, is a first in the industry. I drew inspiration from an essential mechanism found in watches—the "Gem" buckles can be interchanged at will, and the handle and shoulder straps are interchangeable, too, rendering a clean, pure aesthetic, with an element of surprise. I simply don't understand why the shoulder strap must cling on to the handle, which can look clumsy.
I've stolen the colour scheme from Sanrio's Little Twin Stars. Growing up, my sister collected stickers of Little Twin Stars and there was always one lying at home somewhere—I would see it on the fridge or glued on an acrylic ruler that was scratched and opaque—the distinctive sweetness of the pink and blue tones is forever seared in my mind.
On the Omoiyari Legacy, however, this sweetness and innocence is in stark contrast with the powerful, uninhibited brushwork in gold leaf, lacquer and silkscreen ink, with an undercurrent of irascible rage. The innovation lies in the mechanism that allows each Legacy Gem to be interlocked across Sauvereign shoes, bags and a range of accessories such as brooch and hair clip. I created this mechanism because I wanted to create something that will last, that enables the preservation of both the sentimental and monetary value of each piece.
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Women seemingly have an insatiable appetite for my mesh collection as for over 2 years now it's constantly sold out across all heel heights. I'm fascinated by the idea of an object that can be substantial yet not aesthetically heavy—the lightness of the mesh is juxtaposed with the heft of the Gems, yet in perfect harmony. It's an added quality that these shoes are incredibly comfortable to run in (so I've been told) at the same time alluring—I vouch that they are a staple that will give one the mileage.
It's the very first time I had incorporated genuine gemstones on my precious Gem buckles. I had always ridiculed the use of gemstones on mechanical watches but now I find myself having a weakness for sparkly solitaire. I created this lantern Gem collection to celebrate the opening of our flagship in Taipei, and a physical manifestation of hope, that our wishes would be answered by the gods. I shall never forget that, by the skin of our teeth, we managed to open such a beautiful store without having been on-site, not even once, which goes to say anything is possible and never say never.
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The consummation of 360 years of history and savoir-faire, and a fruitful 3-year collaboration between Sauvereign and Zohiko. Every time I hold them in my hands I'm in awe and reminded of the good times when I was a specialist at Christie's. Historic Japanese lacquerware regularly came up at auction and the late Yves Saint Laurent was well known to be a passionate collector of Japanese lacquered objects.
I should like to highlight the red hue under the semi-translucent natural lacquer on our pieces is never-before-seen in the realm of urushi—a fortuitous discovery that I latched on to during the initial development stages with Nishimura-san, the president of Zohiko. I caused much trouble for the artisans in Kyoto who had repelled the idea but after countless failed attempts my persistence paid off. I absolutely adore the stories and meaning behind each motif—for example, the inu-hariko, is a symbol of protection and an amulet for safe childbirth—perhaps also because I was born in the year of the dog.
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About Bertrand Mak
Bertrand Mak is the proprietor and mastermind of Sauvereign and R. Sanderson London—the creator of the 24-carat gold leaf Gems and heels realized by a proprietary leafing and lacquering technique invented in-house in 2012. Born in Hong Kong and bred in London, Mak was introduced to art and craft at a young age, first music and later in life, fine watchmaking.
Before embarking on the journey of creativity and innovation joined by like-minded talents, artisans and collectors, he was a watch specialist at auction house Christie's and began his career in luxury goods as a graduate management trainee at LVMH.
At university, Mak saved up pocket money to trade watches and has since never rested his eye on the smallest of details. His fine appreciation of art can be explained by his classical training in violin and piano, as well as the countless hours spent in museums whilst growing up.
“Creating legends” is Bertrand Mak’s motto.