The intersection of art and fashion with sport is always fascinating to me. The collision of state of the art cycling shoes wrapped with vintage images exploring the sport’s rich history is a great example. Clearly cycling is a passion for U.K. based artist James Straffon who has exactingly decoupaged cycling shoes with historic racing memorabilia. Most recently Straffon collaborated with cycling brand Rapha to create a shoe to commemorate the introduction of their new yak leather shoe, the Grand Tour.
When speaking about creating the shoe Straffon claims, “Working on the Rapha Grand Tour shoe was a daunting task. The decoupage needed to sit well with the company ethos. It also had to exist as an embellishment to the already apparent ‘beauty’ of the raw object, and not speak a different aesthetic language. In addition, much trepidation arose when my usual working method introduced resin-coated sanding papers to fine Yak leather. Not a moment for the faint-hearted. Grand Tour was a journey in itself.”
Straffon chose his images carefully. One flank features the line-up of the very first ‘Grand Départ’ in 1903, outside the Café Reveil-Matin, Montgeron, France. Eventual inaugural Tour de France winner Maurice Garin can be seen poised at the far right. The fated 1967 Tour is also honoured, with reference to Stage 13, Marseille to Carpentras, where Tom Simpson died the slopes of the Ventoux. Barry Hoban’s consequent Stage 14 victory is also represented. Merckx, Rivière, and Géminiani are also featured in the subtle interlocking of images.
Straffon has also collaged shoes donated by cycling stars David Millar and Bradley Wiggins. The shoes will be part of a solo exhibit of Straffon’s cycling based works LE TOUR – from maillot jaune to lanterne rouge opening June 30th at Snap Galleries in London.
David Millar’s re-envisioned shoe
Bradley Wiggin’s wonderfully modified shoe
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