Let’s take a trip down memory lane to the ’90s. It was a decade of memorable events for fashion: Madonna got things started when she performed in a now-iconic conical bra during her “Blonde Ambition Tour” in 1990. Kate Moss championed a revolutionary look on the runways. And then there was the birth of what would become one of the world’s most carried bags—Longchamp’s Le Pliage.
Today, everyone from your hipster colleague to fashion royalty owns at least one Le Pliage. Real royals, like The Duchess of Cambridge herself, have been spotted with the bag. Simply put, the unassuming foldable nylon bag with its signature leather handles and flap has become synonymous with Longchamp.
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However, Longchamp is more than just that. In fact, its history is steeped in the art of leather craft. Founded in post-war Paris by Jean Cassegrain, the French luxury brand devised the world’s first leather-covered pipes before it moved into the realm of small leather goods and women’s handbags decades later. Rather than resting on its laurels, Longchamp has never stopped pushing the envelope with a consistent lineup of new bag styles that show off its rich leather heritage. The brand also managed to bag It-girl du jour Alexa Chung as its ambassador for six seasons in a row, ensuring the devotion of a new generation of fashion lovers.
This year, Longchamp’s light continues to shine bright with the re-opening of its much-anticipated flagship store, back where it all started in 1948 on Paris’ undisputed luxury shopping street, Rue Saint-Honoré. Earlier in March, the French brand announced that its flagship would be undergoing a total facelift to breathe new life to the heritage space that it occupied. But instead of simply shutting its doors and putting up boring white tarp while the building’s 18th century façade was being restored to its former glory, Longchamp got people talking by wrapping the building in a vibrant 10,000sqft piece by American artist Ryan McGinness.
Called “Mindscapes,” McGinness’ piece for Longchamp is symbolic of its story. Behind the massive visual display is Longchamp’s world of heritage and fine taste for craftsmanship. From the onyx columns to marble tiles on the ground floor, no expense was spared when it came to getting only the best in the trade—fine artisans including woodworkers and stonecutters—to work on every detail in the three-storey flagship. Renowned architect Eric Carlson came onboard to design the floor, while sculptor Helen Amy Murray specially created a iridescent leather wall as one of the main features in the store to tie everything back to Longchamp’s roots in leather craftsmanship.
For the first time in the brand’s history, Longchamp has devoted an entire floor to showcasing its ready-to-wear and women’s shoes collections. And, saving the best for last, the entire third storey of the flagship will pay homage to the bag that made everything possible. Showcasing how far the Le Pliage has come, different versions of the bag will be displayed in all its glory throughout the space. Singapore will not be left out of the action: Longchamp is organising a special pop-up at Paragon from 22 October to 2 November. Called “Longchamp Atelier,” the pop-up will bring shoppers on a sensory-filled journey through Longchamp’s 68 years of savoire faire.
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Capping off a fruitful year for Longchamp is the timely arrival of what has been touted as a new icon: The Paris Premier. To commemorate the re-opening of its flagship, Longchamp created a bag that embodies the district that the store resides in and celebrates its myriad intriguing façades.
According to Longchamp, if there’s one bag to represent Paris’ 1st arrondissement, the Paris Premier is it. Curved handles and brass hardware are used to reiterate the grounds of Rue de Rivoli and Rue de Castiglione. Made from the finest French calfskin, the bag’s material speaks volumes about the luxury that envelopes Rue Saint-Honoré. Last but not least, there are the discreet inner compartments sewn into the inside of the Paris Premier to represent how fiercely the Palais-Royal protects its garden from prying eyes. Who ever would have thought that one bag alone could paint such a vivid and romantic picture?
By Alicia Tan