Born of a unique and historic expertise and with a reputation that spans the globe, French leather goods have a guaranteed value that reflects the renewed interest in high-end products.
First produced in the last century, the handbag allows women to carry everything they need with them, from the high-fashion item to the everyday necessity. Now a fashion accessory in its own right, the handbag forms the basis of an increasing number of collections, embodying the essence of the French spirit.
In terms of bags, this elegance à la française is difficult to pin down. It can be traced to the subtle balance between a timeless style that can be revisited endlessly, and beautiful, long-lasting materials with immaculate finishes. Hand stitching, taught exclusively at the Parisian school of La fabrique, is a crucial part of it. This straight, flat seam, done by hand with two needles, runs along the leather from end to end. The regularity of the stitches gives the leather a traditional, unique feel that is coveted by the most prestigious French luxury brands.
French brands are as sought-after abroad as at home. Houses such as Longchamp or La Bagagerie have remained family businesses. The Parisian couture house Christian Dior experienced a renaissance in popularity when one bag, “Le Lady” inspired by Lady Diana in 1996, became a best-selling it-bag sold worldwide. Lancel “Leather goods manufacturer since 1876”, breathes a “French lightness” into its coloured leather bags. The brand’s most recent French muses, Isabelle Adjani and Brigitte Bardot, inspire this fanciful spirit, encapsulating both elegance and irreverence.
The next generation
Designing bags following the traditional rules has recently come back into vogue. Jérôme Dreyfuss, Stéphane Verdino, Florian Denicourt, Luc Dognin, Stéphane Césaire, amongst others, make a point of defending the artisan roots of leather goods manufacture. Their small-scale collections form part of a new type of contemporary luxury. The revival of “Made in France” – very popular abroad – owes a lot to this generation that is brimming with courage and talent.