Longchamp cel­e­brates its mile­stone an­niver­sary with a show of strength that will take it into the fu­ture. Jacquie Ang heads to Paris to dis­cover that the her­itage brand is re­ally just 70 years young.

Prestige (Thailand) - - CONTENTS -

Power Moves

Just two days after stag­ing her first run­way show for Spring/sum­mer 2019 at New York Fash­ion Week (nyfw) in Septem­ber, So­phie De­la­fontaine is back across the At­lantic Ocean, meet­ing a troop of in­ter­na­tional press on a morn­ing of in­ter­views in Longchamp’s show­room on 1 Rue de Che­va­lier Saint Ge­orge in Paris. Bet­ter known for leather ac­ces­sories and the ubiq­ui­tous Le Pliage fold­able ny­lon tote, the mai­son made its foray into ready-to-wear 12 years ago. “We started out small at the be­gin­ning,” re­calls the cre­ative di­rec­tor. “I had only like, five pieces in the first col­lec­tion.” To put out a full-fledged run­way show at nyfw, she had to con­cep­tu­alise a more de­tailed col­lec­tion, to­talling 40 looks. “It re­vealed the di­ver­sity of the Longchamp woman, and con­veyed what the mai­son is to­day, and what the brand will be to­mor­row.” The brand needs to be part of fash­ion world to sell bags to­day, says Jean Cassegrain (ceo to the com­pany and De­la­fontaine’s older brother). He hopes that the show will drive more sales to the core ac­ces­sories busi­ness. “Fash­ion helps to craft the Longchamp woman’s iden­tity and cre­ate de­sire.” Evok­ing a bold Cal­i­for­nian spirit amid Parisian je ne sais quoi, the col­lec­tion chan­neled ’70s glam­our drawn from Anita Pal­len­berg and Verushka, both inim­itable icons each with an in­di­vid­ual sense of style of her own. Just like the guests who at­tended the nyfw show at World Trade Cen­tre, namely Is­abelle Hup­pert, Kate Moss, and cur­rent cam­paign girl Ken­dall Jen­ner. “What these muses have in com­mon is that great sense of chic, with a twist of ec­cen­tric­ity. I want to give women keys to build their dif­fer­ent styles.” This ex­plains the di­ver­sity in the cast­ing, which in­cludes mod­els Mica Ar­gañaraz (from Ar­gentina), Sun Feifei (from China), Nora At­tal (from Morocco) and So­hyun Jung (from South Korea) to re­flect the uni­ver­sal Longchamp woman. Longchamp’s fa­mil­iar ef­fort­less pieces are now spiced up with just the right amount of Mid­west charisma. Makes you dream of desert road trips and late night drives. Char­ac­terised by Longchamp’s leather ex­per­tise, swingy long leather fringes de­fine sil­hou­ettes com­posed of mixed lay­er­ing. “Leather is im­por­tant for us,” she em­pha­sises, high­light­ing Kaia Ger­ber’s fi­nale look of rust-hued fringed jacket and match­ing shorts, as well as Theresa Hayes’ olive green sa­fari dress, as strong looks of the col­lec­tion. “It ex­presses a woman who is dy­namic with­out com­pro­mis­ing fem­i­nin­ity. I also like the chif­fon dresses in leop­ard print paired with leather, which en­dows strength to the fluid sheer dresses.” Ikat, a key mo­tif, is printed on those leather fringes or em­broi­dered on del­i­cate tulle. Black and white punc­tu­ates a colour pal­ette in­flu­enced by bright sum­mer days, a nod to New York City. While new-gen Caval­cade bags turn up in vivid colours and an­i­mal prints, the Ama­zone gets sen­sa­tional with colour­ful stones and broad gui­tar-like straps, fringes and con­trast­ing ma­te­ri­als. “It is our key bag of the mo­ment, and it’s the bag I like to play with. “For shoes, we had a beau­ti­ful col­lec­tion of boots for

Au­tumn/win­ter 2018, but for the next sea­son, I think we all want to go flat so I worked on graphic glad­i­a­tor san­dals and fur slip-ons. We tend to wear mini skirts or shorts in sum­mer, so it’s nice to dress the legs up,” she en­thuses. With beauty mae­stros Guido Palau and Pat Mc­grath in charge of hair and make-up re­spec­tively, De­la­fontaine found that she had lit­tle to worry about. In fact, her fam­ily was sur­prised that she took it so easy for her first ma­jor pre­sen­ta­tion with in­ter­na­tional press in at­ten­dance. “I had a strong team. I had con­fi­dence in ev­ery­one. I just wanted to en­joy the ex­pe­ri­ence,” she muses. “The most mem­o­rable mo­ment for me was right at the start of the show, when we said ‘go’, and the first girl Ju­lia No­bis stepped out.” The au­da­cious idea of hold­ing such a mo­men­tous event in New York, rather than on home turf, demon­strates Longchamp’s dar­ing, free spirit. “I was happy to show in the dy­namic city of New York. I felt lib­er­ated be­cause I’m out of home,” she de­clares. “Longchamp has al­ways acted on intuition – some­thing that we can al­low our­selves to do be­cause we are in­de­pen­dent – and we chose New York be­cause we are in­spired by the en­ergy and free­dom of the city.” It also aptly caps off what was an Amer­i­can-themed year, with the open­ing of a Fifth Av­enue flag­ship store, a sur­prise col­lab­o­ra­tion with edgy Hood by Air de­signer Shayne Oliver, and the ap­point­ment of Jen­ner to front its ad cam­paigns.


One of two head­line events for the mai­son in Septem­ber, the nyfw show was fol­lowed by a grand 70th an­niver­sary fete at the Palais Garnier in Paris. While the for­mer looked for­ward to the next 70 years, the lat­ter cel­e­brates 70 years of lux­ury and savoir-faire. As one of the rare fam­ily-owned houses in the lux­ury fash­ion busi­ness, Longchamp pulled out all the stops to cel­e­brate the mile­stone. “Since 1948, our grand­par­ents and par­ents have passed on to us the pas­sion for cre­ation, and the de­sire to al­ways be unique and un­ex­pected,” states Cassegrain. “Here, our ea­ger­ness drives us to take risks and to be unique in the way we dif­fuse our French life­style, at once con­fi­dent, im­per­ti­nent, and light-hearted. As a fam­ily busi­ness, our true lux­ury lies our in­de­pen­dence and au­then­tic­ity,” Stand­ing on a mag­nif­i­cent green car­pet, a line of tuxedo-clad page­boys wear­ing phan­tas­magor­i­cal masks of horse heads (a nod to the her­itage brand’s eques­trian roots) wel­comed guests into the sump­tu­ous halls of the Palais Garnier. Step in­side and you’re re­minded of a theme close to Longchamp’s heart as a troupe of 30 dancers en­ter­tain you with a myr­iad of dance forms rang­ing from tap dance to tango, from break­dance to Bûto. “For 70 years, the mai­son was in con­stant mo­tion. This is the hall­mark of our fam­ily: mov­ing for­ward, in­no­vat­ing, and al­ways seek­ing to im­prove,” De­la­fontaine says. “It is a per­ma­nent chal­lenge for a fam­ily busi­ness in the hy­per-com­pet­i­tive world of fash­ion that never stops. Move­ment is a state of mind: the Opéra Garnier and the world of dance per­fectly il­lus­trates this phi­los­o­phy.” The celebrity-pow­ered party was, by and large, a friends and fam­ily af­fair that also re­united col­lab­o­ra­tors in­clud­ing crafts­peo­ple from France and around the world, in­ten­si­fy­ing the fam­ily spirit. (Even Sin­ga­pore got to par­take in the cel­e­bra­tions when the mai­son brought a bit of Paris to Paragon via the Café de Longchamp pop-up, where guests en­joyed cof­fee and crois­sants on the house.) But Longchamp isn’t done wow­ing the world yet. This over­achiever has one more pride of the mai­son to present.


In 2007, the French gov­ern­ment awarded Longchamp with the pres­ti­gious clas­si­fi­ca­tion of a Liv­ing Her­itage Com­pany, a la­bel hon­our­ing French com­pa­nies with an ex­per­tise in craft and in­dus­trial work­man­ship. Apart from two com­pany-owned pro­duc­tion sites in Tu­nisia and Mau­ri­tius, and nine stu­dios through part­ner­ships, the mai­son has six French work­shops in the Pays de Loire re­gion.

The main pro­duc­tion site cov­er­ing 60,000sqm was es­tab­lished at Se­gré in 1959. “What’s nice for me is that as soon as I ar­rive, I see faces that I know from I was lit­tle. We have peo­ple work­ing there for more than 40 years. I know some of their par­ents who work there as well! I feel at home in Se­gré,” re­calls De­la­fontaine fondly. Se­gré is an eye-opener to the heart of Longchamp’s uni­verse, but the new state-of-the-art ate­lier and crafts­man­ship school at Pouza­uges charts Longchamp’s course into the fu­ture. Sus­tain­abil­ity plays a ma­jor role here. In­au­gu­rated in Septem­ber, the pro­duc­tion site is con­sid­er­ately in­te­grated into its en­vi­ron­ment. Lo­cal plant species and hedgerows pop­u­late a 50,000sqm park, re­duc­ing the im­pact of the sur­round­ing build­ings and roads on the land­scape. Veg­e­tated val­leys in the car park fil­ter, through the use of macro­phytes, the hy­dro­car­bons from staff’s ve­hi­cles. This elim­i­nates the need to con­struct con­ven­tional un­der­ground net­works, says in­dus­trial di­rec­tor, David Burgel. “We have also set up sock­ets for elec­tric cars and a bi­cy­cle park­ing lot.” To con­trol the site’s en­ergy im­pact and costs, closely mon­i­tored us­ing ded­i­cated soft­ware, Longchamp em­ploys a com­bi­na­tion of rain­wa­ter har­vest­ing, dual-flow ven­ti­la­tion and max­imised use of nat­u­ral light­ing. In the work­shops, light­ing in the form of Sheds sit­u­ated at the top pro­vide a more dif­fused nat­u­ral light. For a bet­ter work en­vi­ron­ment, leather crafts­men can en­joy views of the sur­round­ing land­scape from in­side the workshop through large bay win­dows. “Whether in­doors or out­doors, the en­tire site is lit by leds, gen­er­at­ing low power con­sump­tion. The roof is equipped with a rain­wa­ter re­cov­ery sys­tem, which is used to sup­ply toi­lets and wa­ter our green spa­ces,” he adds. These in­no­va­tions pro­mot­ing sus­tain­abil­ity are part of the plan to ex­pand and mod­ernise its pro­duc­tion fa­cil­i­ties that will sup­port its in­ter­na­tional de­vel­op­ment. By cre­at­ing an op­ti­mal work­ing en­vi­ron­ment at a con­ve­nient lo­ca­tion, as well as es­tab­lish­ing a teach­ing stu­dio to train new em­ploy­ees, Longchamp hopes to at­tract new tal­ent to main­tain its com­pe­ten­cies in France, en­sur­ing its know-how is con­stantly up­graded. This equips the her­itage brand in ramp­ing up its lo­cal pro­duc­tion ca­pac­i­ties and global de­liv­er­ies in re­sponse to an in­creas­ingly de­mand­ing mar­ket. What bet­ter way to cel­e­brate an an­niver­sary than to have the next mile­stones lined up in sight? Happy birth­day, Longchamp!

Right: Jean Cassegrain, Ken­dall Jen­ner, So­phie De­la­fontaine at the an­niver­sary party Be­low: Kate Moss at Longchamp’s run­way show

Pic­tured: Page­boys wear­ing horse head masks Be­low: Dim­itri Cham­blas chore­ographed the phe­nom­e­nal bal­let fea­tur­ing 30 dancers

The en­tire Cassegrain clan gath­ers around an enor­mous birth­day cake that re­quired four peo­ple to carry up the stair­case

Pic­tured: Longchamp’s new state-of-the-art pro­duc­tion site at Pouza­uges Be­low: The main pro­duc­tion site at Se­gré

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