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Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Benoit Duvignacq - Fine Leather Goods

I met designer Benoit Duvignacq when I was in Paris for the 'ouverture' of Galerie BSL in Rue Charlot in the 3rd. Benoit at the time was doing commissioned pieces for the Galerie in python skin. This 36 year old is no new comer to his profession. He is a Parisian, a genuine one, raised and educated in Paris at Ecole ESMOD PARIS (1993 – 1996), graduating in pattern making.You will enjoy his answers to our questions, mostly because he's just so French! To contact him go to:

Benoit, tell us about your work experience working for Sonia Rykiel – what did the work consist of and what processes did you learn?
It was a great experience! I was so young when I had this proposal and any chance to learn so much in a short time.
I entered the famous fashion House Sonia Rykiel as an assistant for her daughter Nathalie Rykiel. When I started with it, Nathalie was in charge of art direction and managing all the collections and the image of the company.
I was immediately put into the atmosphere because two months after my arrival, we celebrated the 40th anniversary of the House with a tribute show to the Library François Mitterrand.
It started strong as Nathalie was the great organizer of the event. So I immediately learned about the production of a huge fashion show. So I actively worked on the entire production, casting, fittings, hair and make-up, music … with as a consultant, the famous fashion editor Carine Roitfeld.
These moments were very important to me because I discovered both codes Rykiel from the lips of Madame Rykiel and functioning as a whole, a fashion House of repute. I was able to project myself in the early universe Rykiel and make proposals to be creative teams for each line of the House. In particular, I learned what a true art direction for product and image and hone my skills and overall artistic direction, in close collaboration with the Direction.
A few months later, Nathalie Rykiel was also appointed Director of communication so that nothing was done under the name Rykiel, Nathalie without approval and that all passed through our office. Thus we have implemented a dynamic team that I had to coordinate daily. I was able to develop my skills in terms of management.
So I spent a number of years to develop my skills in art direction for product (creation of collections, recasting the second line under the concept Sonia, Sonia Rykiel, working in collaboration with perfume and beauty division, development of guidelines - Rykiel Homme men still existed- and child), but also the image of the House (in the shops with window displays, merchandising and events) and the communication strategy (advertising campaigns, co-branding and press relations of Madame Rykiel and Nathalie Rykiel).
My time at Sonia Rykiel is one of my experiences the most comprehensive that I probably pushed the creation of my own brand a few years later....

Tell us about leather? What are your favourite leathers and what makes the best leather for your products? Do you consider yourself a leather goods designer or are you working on a wider range of goods?
It is starting my collection of leather goods that I really discovered the complexity of the leather and all the opportunities afforded by this material. Diversity is much greater than we imagine and the same type of animal may have multiple and different leather appearances.

With my background as a designer for the clothing man and woman, leathers that I love meet the same criteria as those of a beautiful fabric. They must be pleasant to live so light, sensual touch, easy to maintain and retain their beauty as long as possible.

But it is also the type of product you want to work that guides my choice of hides and leathers.
Besides, I am currently developing a capsule collection of unisex jackets and my sourcing is partly shared with that for leather goods.

We need to find the best possible match between the technique used to mount the piece of leather or jacket and the material chosen. Each new model requires its needs and that is what makes me a continuous watch on sourcing.

What is certain is that leathers that inspire me and I walk away more and more a creation only turned to the leather goods. I want to try some ideas I have, especially in decoration, and continue to develop a few pieces of clothing available in other qualities of leathers and skins.

When you source your leathers what are you looking for? Geographically, are there any areas for you that produce the best leather?

I'm looking especially materials that can affect the senses of sight and out of touch with my clients. I imagine a leather goods collection as a sensory experience! Associated with notions of quality and functionality, here are the words that obsess me in my job sourcing.
I am also very careful about the traceability of hides and leathers that I buy, either at the origin of the skins that the process of their transformation, ensuring that my choices are the most eco-compatible.

To do this, so I work with a number of suppliers among the most prestigious and which each have their specialty (Bodin-Joyeux for lambskin, Hermès Cuirs Précieux for precious exotic skins. ...). After several seasons, we have forged close links with them and I work on the colors of course, but also the textures and finishing (the tinting, the waterproofing, the effects of leather on the flower or on the scales ... ).

I am always to develop and offer collection and in a number of hides and leathers novel that I'll be sure not to find the products of my competitors.

Finally, my quest for absolute quality leads to work exclusively with French and Italian suppliers who have mastered the leather trades for centuries. In addition, many of my materials in the collection can not find equivalents in other countries outfitters leather, probably lack some know-how ?

Tell us a little bit about precious leathers like python that you use? Do you inspect all your hides before you purchase leather?

I always appreciated the snakeskin for the diversity offered its scales and finish, its colors, its flexibility. Is also one of the strongest leathers and sustainable over time.

Currently I am proposing in my collection the most prestigious pythons called Reticulatus but also very beautiful water snakes. I start by selecting the skins by size and type - front cut (cut on the belly) or back cut, according to my needs technical and stylistic. Then I work closely with the tanner dyeing, finishes and effects that embellish each skin.

On the other hand, the python is a protected species and its sale is limited and very controlled. Each skin must be reported and have had their document SITES validated by the Office of Customs in each country where the animal could remain (often two countries: the farm of origin and the tanner). And even once the finished product, I must continue to report the use of python skin and deliver the documents related to my retailers.
Traceability is very rigorous.

But I also work another precious skin to the appearance half fish, half-python: the perch of the Nile. I had the chance to buy the entire stock of Hermès Cuirs Précieux while processing this leather-fish is now forbidden due to the disappearance of the species (now replaced by perch Tilapia from Brazil, many less beautiful and too small).

Tell us about living in Paris, how does this affect your work? Does being Parisian have an effect on your creativity? If yes, can you describe this influence?

 Living in Paris is above all to have access to culture as a whole. Able to grow, knowing the major references in the art, literature, fashion, gastronomy ... The creation is always a sequence of visual events and creative activities. I draw also a daily energy in the beauty of this city where everything has an aesthetic sense following neighborhoods, reflecting the mix of the population of Paris.

But I think I will not be as much inspired by Paris if I had not the chance to travel extensively both in France and abroad. Is returning to Paris that any re-inspire you again!
 It must also be said that Paris is the fashion capital where all the finest brands and famous Houses are present, the best suppliers, allowing maximum visibility on what is fact and professional contacts are more immediate.
But it is obvious that Paris is undoubtedly central to my work because I'm from Paris and I breathe its codes. Abroad, few people are mistaken about my origin....

So I think the biggest inspiration to me raises Paris is a concept of attitude, which may involve looking at my leather goods! But let's not forget that all of my collection is manufactured in France, near Toulouse, by craftsmen and I strongly hope that each of my models reflects the French lifestyle first.

 If you could have 5 people (living or dead) for dinner who would they be?
Rose Bertin, the ancestor of couturiers and fashion designers
 Gabrielle Chanel, for its functional fashion
 Yves Saint Laurent, for his democratic ready-made
 Karl Lagerfeld, as the incarnation of the fashion that offers multiple faces in our contemporary world
 ... and to weight the cons
 St. Benedict and his order that imposes a certain poverty to focus more on the quest for spiritual and intellectual wealth.
I also count on him to promote reconciliation, and thus put an end to the estrangement between Yves Saint Laurent and Karl Lagerfeld, once close....

So I would be living alone at the dinner very fashionable!

What is your favourite place for an aperitif in Paris?

'Le Pavillon du Lac', in the park calls Buttes-Chaumont, for its confidential nature at the heart of the largest park in Paris Intramural (wanted by Napoleon III for a picnic). The terrace, facing the lake and its island topped by a stunning viewpoint, can forget the bustle of Paris ... ... and it's a real pleasure to be still in the park when it comes to close the public !

Info / valet stand at the main entrance of the ‘Parc des Buttes-Chaumont’
Place Armand Carrel 75019 Paris - Station: Laumière
But I look forward to the opening of the terrace on the hotel des Monnaies de Paris, opposite the Louvre, Quai de Conti 75006, which is probably one of the most pleasant and beautiful views of Paris!

If you could take an office/studio anywhere you liked, where would we find you?

At the Palais-Royal (75001 Paris) for the attraction of being hyper center but also because I have my habits to be long lived.
 In the Buttes-Chaumont district (75019 Paris), as now, but I dream of a house with a garden!

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