Longchamp accessories — yesterday, today, tomorrow
Paris in 1948 was immersed in the atmosphere of celebrating the end of World War II. City cafes were filled with soldiers smoking pipes in the fashion of that time, and one day, along with the fragrant smoke of tobacco that filled the streets, an unremarkable shopkeeper named Jean Cassegrain came to a brilliant insight — the world after the war lacks exclusive smoking accessories, elements of style and image, because how very soon luxury will become a high-demand commodity.
This is how the Longchamp brand was born, founded by the Cassegrain family and named after the Parisian hippodrome, where the famous Gran Prix de Paris equestrian competitions are still held today. The brand name was chosen correctly, and the success of the new venture was swift — in a matter of months, a pipe in a leather case from Longchamp managed to become an object of desire for smokers of liberated Paris.
The incredible popularity led to the rapid development of the company, and after a couple of years Longchamp expanded its product line, in addition to pipes and cases, offering a number of related products, such as special lighters, knives for cleaning pipes from carbon deposits, brushes for cleaning the chibouk and mouthpiece, and by 1955 year, firmly established themselves in the minds of a supplier of high quality smoker amenities. But the history of the Longchamp house as a manufacturer of elegant travel bags began at the moment when the head of the company, which was already firmly on its feet, came up with the idea that a special tobacco bag for storing and carrying all of the above smoking accessories would be useful — of course, leather.
Over the following decades, Longchamp’s focus stretched like shagreen leather: in the sixties, with the opening of the company’s first factory, wallets and purses appeared, bags of all kinds, suitcases, classic men’s briefcases entered production in the early seventies, and at the end of the decade, Longchamp pays attention to the holy of holies of fashion is the area of handbags, which currently brings the company up to 50% of annual profits.
Today, the outlines of Longchamp bags are recognizable down to the smallest detail, they can only be found in certain places — where the likes of them gather. In addition to a set of little things that can be found in the bag of any woman, these bags carry something more — information, memory about the women whose names they were named, or about the people they were created by.
The Longchamp legend is the Le Pliage line of beach bags made of special waterproof nylon with reinforced leather handles in various lengths, available in four different sizes and even as a cosmetic bag. The shape of Le Pliage has remained unchanged for decades, but its design changes from season to season, and that’s another story. The first edition of this model, which to this day continues to be popular not only in Europe, was released in 1993. Now this bag worth about 100 euros without delivery can be ordered through a special section of the company’s website, as an option, a designer is offered, where you can choose the color of stripes for your new bag, if this is its classic version, the size and even the color of the fittings — an elegant metal disk with the company’s brand name — a jockey crouched on the back of a racing horse, maybe in the color of gold, silver or old bronze.
The 1980s marked a new milestone in the Maison’s history: the founder’s son, Phillipe Cassegrain, took over the family business and came up with the idea of collaborating with young and talented designers, and his business sense did not let Longchamp down this time either. Perhaps it’s all about energy — we tend to cult everything that the hand of an obviously talented person touches, and from year to year the company pleases its fans with unusual design novelties in limited editions, whose value only grows with time and with the growing popularity of the authors of these mini masterpieces.
To celebrate Le Pliage’s 10th anniversary in 2004, the company invited controversial British artist and renowned feminist Tracey Emin to collaborate on a special limited edition handbag. Tracy adorned travel bags with declarations of love in various languages, including her native Turkish. In the same 2004, British conceptual architect Thomas Heatherwick, designer of the Rolling Bridge in London, came up with the idea for another bag called «the Zipper bag». One day, the designer was impressed by the fact that zippers are produced in rolls of at least 200 meters and prompted him to make a noteworthy experiment — is it possible to create something miniature and interesting with a zipper of non-standard length? This experiment resulted in a collaboration with Longchamp in the Zipper bag series — two-layer bags with a magnetic closure. The zipper on this bag is located in several rows right along the perimeter. The bag is not only stylish, but also functional – when unzipped, it triples in size in a spiral, revealing a bright inner surface, previously hidden behind a zipper. Such a design find could not fail to become one of the bestsellers, and Heatherwick studios employees received another lucrative contract — to develop the architectural concept and design of the 100th anniversary boutique La Maison Unique store, in New York, 132 Spring Street, SoHo. Zippers, functional and sexy at the same time, keep things closed and hint at something hidden behind their sharp teeth. It was this principle of lightning that the architect applied during the creation of the interior space of the store. Inside the ordinary three-story building-box of 1936, there really is something to see, and even something to be surprised at. The interior of the boutique is a single conceptual world: a labyrinth of flights of stairs leads to a spacious showroom, where shelves for placing models are made in the form of narrow sections, as if detached from the ceiling, creating a kind of angular landscape. Every detail of the interior of the boutique is designed to amaze, invite you to go inside, explore this mysterious world and stay among Longchamp’s fans for a long time, if not forever.
2006 British Vogue’s choice of summer must-haves is Longchamp handbags by influential British designer Jeremy Scott. A catchy travel collection from small bags to roomy suitcases on wheels, stylized as light wood boxes for cargo transportation with characteristic and provocative inscriptions Fragile, Not your bag, Paris made a splash. Yes, they are “not yours” (the series is called This is not your Bag), but the beauty is that they are noticeable, and at the airport you will hardly be able to confuse your luggage with someone else’s — this is a limited edition, one of those that great for collections and only gets better with age. Although no one is safe from incidents, and perhaps the wonderful case with the Fragile inscription on the leather side that you just received in the arrivals hall of the airport of one of the European capitals is not really yours, but belongs to that stylish guy with exactly the same case in his hand … By the way, The Le Pliage’ Summer 2009 collection features a limited edition soft milky The Stomp bag by Jeremy Scott, embellished with a deep print of the grooved soles of men’s boots, in line with stars such as Kylie Minogue and Cameron Diaz. The bag will be incredibly good paired with silk shirt dresses “trampled down” in the same manner by Jeremy Scott again. You can order such a bag only in a London boutique.
These days, the brand is no longer associated with specialty products for smokers, but is known as a manufacturer of fashionable travel accessories, classic men’s briefcases and handbags, partly handcrafted — a mandatory requirement of the Colbert committee, which brings together all French luxury manufacturers such as Hermes, Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior and Chanel. The advertising face of the House for the past four years has been the British top model Kate Moss, who is able to turn any thing she wears into a trend. It was she who inspired the company’s designers to create a new series of women’s bags Legende’. When Kate was asked what her dream bag was, Kate replied that the ultimate desire for her was a roomy doctor-style bag, stylized as 70s black patent leather on the outside, lined in bright scarlet. Her desires became a call to action for the Longchamp design team, and thus a new legend was born, which this and many other famous girls prefer not to part with in everyday life. Bags of this line are also available in 4 sizes and several different combinations of color and leather texture. Legende in the same variant created for Kate Moss costs about 1000 euros, the cost of Legende’s summer bag of 2009 from a combined combination of beige plus cherry or beige plus black is about 600 euros.
Now the search for new names on the threshold of world fame and the embodiment of their unrestricted self-expression is an important part of Longchamp’s corporate policy. A special flair for events allowed the company to combine seemingly completely incompatible things. They create a new reality where creators-designers put a part of their soul into their creations, which makes Longchamp bags not just leather goods, but an object of desire. So how do you create a legend? Mix a little experience of previous generations, add a non-trivial appearance, it is desirable to involve a person who promises to become a supernova to participate in the design, limit the release to a batch of 100 to 1000 pieces, spice up the quality factor and functionality traditional for the brand in circulation, always be on the wave of time and surprise The recipe for creating a legend is simple.
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