The leather collection is conceived in the Lemaire studio in Paris. The bags suggest exaggerated shapes that hang like baubles against the drape of clothing. Curvy and shiny, the singular quality of the designs offsets the drape of the garments they adorn. Their forms have a friendly quality, readily making them an opening for a conversation or exchange between strangers, in the street or at a restaurant.
The wooden last used to
prepare the form of the
Bag with metal fastening
Each piece is created in a dialogue between
the studio and the factory in Impruneta, Italy,
the Tuscan town where they are produced.
The artisans developed the procedure from
a molded leather technique, an evolution
of the process of small leather goods: cigar
cases, coin purses and pouches. The result of
trials and failures, the process has emerged
from both the inventiveness and pertinaciousness
of the artisans. Made from vegetal
leather, it demands carefully balanced
adjustments, made incrementally to achieve
a beautifully rounded shape, free from any
strengthening material. The shape of the
bag emerges as the leather is worked over
the wood, pressed repeatedly and negotiated
Impruneta is a small town in the middle of Tuscany known, for the most part, for the terracotta made from local clay. The material is responsible for the reddish tone that appears throughout the cityscape, across homes, shops and cultural landmarks. Terracotta kilns gather around the outskirts of Impruneta. The decorative shapes of the natural clay, in the form of pots, pillars, tiles and sculptures, express the surrounding geography and anthropocene.
An artisan's hand work the
leather into the bag's form.
Classical terracotta statues;
the clay is speciality of the region of Impruneta.
The leather is stitched together on a sewing
The simple curvature of the bags conceals
a process guided by hands. The procedure
begins with a piece of wood in the form of
a last created by the craftsmen. This becomes
the template for the leather that is used over
and over, tailor-made for the each of the
bag recipes. The last is carved to the shape
of the bag and is the foundation for the hand
working of the leather that follows.
First, the leather piece is soaked thoroughly and evenly before being finely sheathed over the wooden last. A wood frame is then placed around the structure, holding the leather firm for it to take shape in the drying process. The wood frame fills the negative space around the last and is then placed under a press to coax the material into shape.
Three stages of the leather
in the moulding procedure
for the Egg bag.
After the initial pressing, the leather is
sculpted and massaged over the wood into
its curved form. This is a sensual process:
the leather is a living material and yields to
the repeated molding from the hands of the
artisans. Using the strength of their fingers
they mold the shape of the bag as if rolling
out pasta dough, carefully and evenly easing
the material towards the design.
The beauty of the bag making is that it is both tacit and environmental. The form of the bag is created in the pressure of the fingers, the temperature of the water, the health of the leather, the sun where the bags are placed to dry. Still, the process is aleatory: the two leather pieces may react differently to the moistening and dying process. If there is a gap when the two molded parts are stitched together, it will offset the symmetry. Everything may be done perfectly, but at the end the two pattern pieces may not fit perfectly together by the smallest increment.
The structure is left for a period of time
under Impruneta's sun. Once dry, and
the wood frame removed, the edges of
the leather are trimmed to the margins of
the bag's final shape and the pattern pieces
are assembled and stitched together, their
edges hand-painted and waxed . The bags
are completed with the addition of small
and minimal hardware, complimentary
to the curves of the designs.
The dedicated and laboured technical procedure the bags undergo makes each unique to the asperities of the hand that crafts it. They are not perfect, but their craftsmanship participates to their beauty.
The leather is worked
into shape in the