Longchamp artistic director Sophie Delafontaine gives a preview of her new launches and also talks designer collaborations
in town to unveil Longchamp’s spanking new boutique in The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands, Sophie Delafontaine is in a buoyant mood. The brand’s third store in Singapore is also the first in AsiaPacific to have a dedicated entrance for its men’s section.
“This is an opportunity for us to refocus on the men’s category and introduce more items,” says Delafontaine, the brand’s artistic director who joined the family business in 1995. “After all, Longchamp started out with men’s products in 1948 when my father, Jean Cassegrain, took over my grandfather’s tobacco shop and created leather sheaths for cigarette cases and pipes, which later developed into small leather goods and luggages.”
For the upcoming Autumn/winter 2016, she will introduce a line of cotton and gabardine bags — the Cricket collection — distinguished with sporty stripes. The season will also debut men’s tennis shoes that will come in two different material combinations.
Also much anticipated are the next-gen iterations for Le Pliage, the emblematic foldable everyday bag inspired by the Japanese art of origami. The brainchild of Delafontaine’s father, the roomy carryall is made of nylon, which makes it light yet robust as a travel essential. In 2012, the trapezoidal tote was recast in leather for everyday elegance. When the beloved bag turned 20 two years later, it gained fresh grown-up appeal in a structured take, christened Le Pliage Heritage. Come July 14, the new Le Pliage Cocarde marks Bastille Day with France’s national colours,
The bag stays constantly relevant, thanks to the string of designer collaborations Delafontaine spearheads in an effort to launch limited edition covetibles. Among the partnerships, Jeremy Scott’s has been the longest and he marked the 10th anniversary of their collaboration with a commemorative limited edition “Greetings from Hollywood” postcard design, a revisit to 2012’s “Greetings from Paradise” edition.
“When I discover the work of an artist, I want to get into his universe — who they are, where they work, how they work — so collaborations let me meet these talented people and work with them. Longchamp also gets a fresh look and a new spirit,” she explains.
Delafontaine was particularly impressed by the work of American artist Sarah Morris. The mathematics that go behind what appear to be simple geometric shapes, she says, mirrors the actual complexity of Le Pliage. “It takes hundreds of steps to produce one bag and many parts are still made by hand, such as painting the trimmings of handles and flaps. The leather is cut by hand, while nylon is folded by hand before they are sewn,” Delafontaine reveals.
However, not every collaboration ends in a physical product, as in the case of Alexa Chung, who also flew in for the boutique opening. The British style icon has fronted Longchamp’s ad campaigns for the past five seasons, with no capsule collection or special accessory in sight. “I am collaborating with Alexa but in a different way — the product is the video and pictures for the ad campaign. You do not need to have a product to express a brand.”
Le Pliage Cocarde