Talking Fashion with Frank Charriaut of the Mot Art

 Left: Frank Charriaut in the flesh in Biarritz, France. | Middle, Right: Chanel Motocross and speed racing boots Frank had designed for Chanel.

Left: Frank Charriaut in the flesh in Biarritz, France. | Middle, Right: Chanel Motocross and speed racing boots Frank had designed for Chanel.

I had the pleasure to chat with Frank Charriaut of the Mot'Art, Frank's blog about gasoline culture and fashion. Frank Charriaut is an Art director alumni from Chanel and Carvil, designing shoes. Today you can find Frank living and riding around Biarritz, France, on his Moto Guzzi. 

You’re an interesting man with good, classic taste. It is not every day you get to talk to someone who is both a shoe designer and a motorcycle lover.

You have designed shoes for Chanel, and of course these motocross pair of boots are an example of how you combined two of your passions. Before I get into these boots and your time with Chanel, I wanted to ask: How did you get into your love of motorcycles?

Frank: I discover motorcycles when I was 16 years old dating my first girlfriend who was older than me and was riding a 125 XLS. My first goal was to learn how to ride it myself ;)

When did you start writing le mot’art?

Frank: I started the Mot’Art Journal in 2009 after I left the Southsiders. My purpose was to post everything that I like as architecture, photography, Africa, design… and not only motorcycles which was impossible with the Southsiders blog.

Wheels and Waves is in your back yard; do you play any major role in this event?

Frank: They asked me to get involved for their first edition in Biarritz, I suppose they needed a local. Thanks God I refused. This event which is successful is not enough “open” for my tastes.

Obviously motorcycles were a huge influence, but what was the moment where you decided that you wanted to design these motocross boots? Was it the influence of the Chanel motorcycle you also helped design?

Frank: I first started to design a motocross and a speed racing pair of boots (the on the picture you sent me). At that time I was free to design almost all I wanted at Chanel, sneakers, surfboards, accessories etc… The idea of the motorcycle came after a trip in Half Moon Bay for the Legend of  the Motorcycles show were I discovered the high degree of quality we could find on the other side of the ocean.

The motocross boots and even other active or sport wear is very different from Chanel’s typical silhouette—were they designed for functional use? Should I take these out for flat track?

Frank: Actually they were design for fashion but the factory which made them was a real motorcycle boots factory so yep you can and you should wear them for flat track but I would choose the motocross pair of boots and not the speed racing pair. I always laugh to see “traditional” Chanel customers wearing them for shopping in Paris …

Motorcycle culture has influenced the fashion industry for decades and continues to do so—from Steve McQueen to American Motorcycle Clubs. What are your thoughts on the 2018 trends of dirt bikes and motocross influenced fashion—like Rihanna’s Fenty x Puma Spring/Summer 2018 collection (link here to see her collection)? It has even become a trendy backdrop for clothing retailers like H&M’s Wild at Heart (see campaign here) and magazines like Harper’s Bazaar that Selena Gomez modeled in (see magazine campaign).  Do you think these influences in fashion today are a huge departure from the motorcycle culture or that it may bring more interest for the culture?

Frank: I love the influence of “motorcycle” in fashion but it’s nothing serious as fashion is moving so fast from one influence to an other. The main negative point is that people are discovering motorcycle thru fashion and use it as a fashion trend and not a lifestyle as it suppose to be. For me motorcycle is a lifestyle and not a fashion trend, I played with it when I was working for Chanel and I will do it again if I find a good ‘opportunity” but its nothing serious. The good point is that I’m sure we will find a lot of second-hands motorcycles on the market when the fashion will change ☺

I am excited to see what else you will be working on. I occasionally get to see some great men’s shoes for Carvil shoes. Are we going to see any more motocross styled boots from you anytime soon? Another custom motorcycle perhaps?  

Frank: I stopped working for Carvil a few month ago so I don’t think we will ever see a motorcycle pair of boots made by Carvil which could have been fun like making a retro “very thin” speed racing motorcycle pair of boots like Ago was wearing in the 60’s. I cannot tell you for who I’m working right now (confidential…) but I will probably send you a motorcycle pair of boots when they will be ready.

Ladies and gentlemen, Frank is a man of taste, style and ethics. It is always a pleasure to see the projects he reveals on his social media and his insight on fashion--You can follow Frank and his creative journey on Instagram and his blog.