Pupchen is an outburst from—and an invitation into—the unusual, decadent, uncompromising universe of young Tunisian designer and architect, Duha Bukadi. Pupchen is her aesthetic revenge on a world of resigned adults, tedious routines, and flat personalities. As an architect, Bukadi always loved navigating the mix of structure, utility, and aesthetics in every building she designed. This is what she likes about building shoes, too: the savoir faire (structure), the comfort (utility), and the fantasy (aesthetics).
Tunis-based Bukadi draws constant inspiration from her surroundings: her daughter’s toys, her vivid dreams, and the unexpected poetry of everyday life. She’s a storyteller, and shoes are her medium. Bukadi wants shoes to be playful, fun, and, at the same time, the height of chic. Pupchen shoes are imagined and designed at the Pupchen offices in Tunisia. Then prototypes are made in Maison Massaro, part of Chanel’s Métiers d’Art, in Paris. Production takes place at Nillab, a well-known footwear manufacturing firm based in the Riviera del Brenta, Italy.
Pupchen is a pet name. The late French singer and poet Georges Brassens gave it to his lover and muse, Joha Heiman. Brassens and Heiman were each other’s obsession for 30 years from the time they met in Paris until Brassens’ death in 1981. Pupchen comes from the German for “little doll.” But a love like Brassens’ and Heiman’s is not diminutive or conventional. Never married, never living together, their passion for each other was expansive in its contradictions. Brassens famously sang in awe of Heiman, “I made myself small (before a doll).” When told that she lived in Brassens’ shadow, Heiman would respond that she lived in his light. Pupchen is a doll who plays with the world. Not the other way around.