José Levy

What does José Lévy do? The answer is not that simple because his praxis blurs boundaries and are the focal point of a set of disciplines and expertise patiently investigated, compiled, arranged. We must start by saying that José Lévy designs objects and by objects, we mean things that are manufactured. Porcelain for Sevres, ceramics for Astier de Vilatte, crystal for St.Louis, furnitures for Roche‐Bobois and for Gallery S. Bensimon, candles, towels, and let’s not forget clothes, not only for him but for others… In this incredibly modern adventure we remember his unforgettable ready‐to‐wear collection, a work that revels in a time of fantasy and survival. Archaeologist, José Lévy explores techniques and savoir‐faire, at the same time immersing himself in popular culture while exploiting the banalities of the past, known but forgotten, which in turn fill his creations with nostalgia and reminiscence. Shared memories, loose and diluted, in order to create a current that inhabits remarkable forms, José Lévy’s objects are suspended between two ages, immediate and tangible, displaying not only the modern but all that is possible.

Japan and tatami are dear to the designer instigated by a love affair that runs in the family. At the start of the 60s, Anatole, José Lévy’s grandfather, founded Judogi manufacturing kimonos, hakama and katana in Japan. ‘I encountered Japan early on thanks to him. It was my first experience of anything exotic, of some other place, of the ‘unusual yet beautiful.’ All these objects fascinated me. They were very important in my relationship with anything foreign, beautiful, dreams and distinction. In the 70s, people travelled less, Japan seemed very, very far away,’ José Lévy recalls. Once a year, Anatole visited his suppliers and took advantage to continue to explore the country. He supplied European clubs, sports shops and before long even the Olympic Games thanks to an ingenious anti-slip system for his tatamis developed with machines imported from Japan. In his shop on Boulevard Beaumarchais he articulated, among kimonos, kodachi and hakama, a visual and sensual heritage that he often recaptured through fashion, then at Villa Kujoyama in Kyoto in 2012. This is where he encountered Japanese formal authenticity and the principal remains the same for this collection: tatamis, precious woods, lacquer and waxed, light wood.