SARKIS DER BALIAN | THE MASTER OF THE ARMENIAN SCHOOL OF FOOTWEAR DESIGN

1965 | Sarkis Der Balian in his workshop (Paris, Rue de Faubourg)
Source: The Art of the Shoe by Marie-Josèphe Bossan - Parkstone 2004

Among all the bottiers and shoemakers gone abroad after the diaspora following WWI, the most prominent became Sarkis Der Balian, a native of Aintab in Cilicia. One of the many orphaned children, he learned the trade in the postwar period with the shoemaker who took care of him and, when grown up, set off for France to seek his own fortune.

Fra tutti i bottier e calzolai figli della diaspora, il più grande fu Sarkis Der Balian, originario di Aintab in Cilicia. Uno dei tanti bambini rimasti orfani, imparò il lavoro nel primo dopoguerra dal calzolaio che lo prese in carico e, diventato grande, partì in cerca di fortuna per la Francia.


1955 | Sarkis Der Balian
Shoe created for the Brussels World Fair. This model pays tribute to the famous Atomium
Woman sandal made of white kidskin daisies painted with green leaves. Stalk fully welted.
© Romans; Musée international de la Chaussure
© Direction des musées de France, 2007 © Christophe Villard

ca 1955 | Sarkis Der Balian
Leather printed with black lace pattern over metallic copper. Bronze leather straps. 
Source: The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco

1939 | Sarkis Der Balian for Cécil
© Romans; Musée international de la Chaussure
© Direction des musées de France, 2007 © Christophe Villard


Der Balian worked at several ateliers in Paris, including Enzel in the '30s as technical director, then at Cécil and also as a consultant for footwear industries like Unic. In the 40s he opened his own atelier in Rue de la Sourdière and later in Rue Saint-Honoré.
He left his mark in Italy as well, winning with his shoe "Flora" the award for artistic creations at the Bologna Fair back in 1955 (picture here below). Apparently Der Balian also worked with shoemakers and heelmakers from the Milan area (SS 33) but the source is yet to be verified so that we prefer to omit the names while we search for more data. He loved to make artistic shoes reproducing famous cities, including Zurich and Paris, with thousands of multicolored tiny leather cutouts.

Lavorò presso diversi ateliers di calzoleria parigini, tra i quali Enzel negli anni ’30 come direttore, poi presso Cécil e fu consulente presso industrie calzaturiere come la Unic. Negli anni ’40 aprì un un suo atelier, prima in Rue de la Sourdière e poi in Rue Saint-Honoré.
Fu pluripremiato per le sue creazioni artistiche, ad esempio nel 1955 a Bologna per la scarpa “Flora” (cfr. foto). Risultano anche collaborazioni con calzaturifici e tacchifici dell'area milanese (SS 33), ma la documentazione é talmente lacunosa che preferiamo omettere i nomi in attesa di ulteriori informazioni. Una sua passione erano le calzature opere d’arte che riproducevano famose città, tra cui Zurigo e Parigi, con migliaia di micro ritagli in pelle colorata.


1955 | Sarkis Der Balian | Flora
Award-winner at the Bologna Fair 
“upper composed of piped and interlaced straps, hallow heel silver-plated and 
inlayed with iridescent leather”
Source: The Art of the Shoe by Marie-Josèphe Bossan - Parkstone 2004

1950 | Sarkis Der Balian
Detail of the decoration of the shoe Zurich
"The upper is of parchment inlayed with naturally coloured leather"
Source: The Art of the Shoe by Marie-Josèphe Bossan - Parkstone 2004

He worked until 1995, a year before his death. His models were chosen, among others, by Marie Curie, Salvador Dali, Henri Salvador, Jean Anouilh.
The Museum of Romans sur Isere houses a collection of 374 pieces of his work, made between the 30s and the 60s.

La sua attività andò avanti fino al 1995, un anno prima della sua morte. I suoi modelli furono scelti, tra gli altri, da Marie Curie, Salvador Dali, Henri Salvador, Jean Anouilh.
Il museo di Romans sur Isère ospita una collezione di 374 pezzi della sua produzione, realizzati fra gli anni ’30 e ’60.


ca 1940 | Sarkis Der Balian
© Romans; musée international de la Chaussure
© Direction des musées de France, 2007 © Christophe Villard

ca 1940 | Sarkis Der Balian
© Romans; Musée international de la Chaussure
© Direction des Musées de France, 2007 © Christophe Villard

SARKIS DER BALIAN
PHOTOGALLERY

A TRIBUTE TO
THE ARMENIAN SCHOOL OF FOOTWEAR DESIGN


Sarkis Der Balian
© Romans; Musée international de la Chaussure
© Direction des musées de France, 2007 © Christophe Villard


SOURCES:

Marie-Josèphe Bossan
The Art of the Shoe/L'Art de la Chaussure | Parkstone 2004

Gēorg A. Sarafean, Kevork Avedis Sarafian
A briefer history of Aintab: a concise history of the cultural, religious, educational, political, industrial and commercial life of the Armenians of Aintab
Union of the Armenians of Aintab, 1957


Joconde
Portail des collections des musées de France

 

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