A game as a (hand)bag
Almost twenty years ago, actually in 1998 long before personalization was the big trend, François Rénier did break all the codes in the world of handbags. He created a game; a handbag with interchangeable handles to create another look every day. The concept is now also for sale again in our country.
“I love luxury the Parisian way… of artisan work and superior craftsmanship”, tells us François Rénier. “This is reflected right from the early starting years as a designer of very luxurious small leather products in the sheer quality of my creations”. They often were compared with the workmanship of Hermès. On the one hand this is a compliment, but it represents also a handicap. I asked myself how I could continue to deliver this high level quality but at the same time using a different approach than this illustrious name. I wanted to carry the old traditional “savoir faire” into the future. This led to the idea of creating a handbag (22 x 22 cm) in…paper, attached to handles in crocodile leather. I wanted to oppose diametrically the luxury of leather against the transience or fleeting character of paper. A very strong stylistic association. Fragile versus noble. An unexpected provocation. Unexpected luxury.“
Crocodile leather handles attached to paper bags: ridiculous?
“It seemed a bit ridiculous to sew these expensive handles to the paper”, François Rénier continues. “So I looked for another solution, and attached the ultra luxurious handles to the colorful paper bags with musketons. François Rénier Paris even offered in those days boxes containing not less than seven paper bags, one for every day. “Ideal when you have to go to a party and you don’t find the handbag which matches ideally the color of your dress” states Catherine Bousse, who runs presently the Boutique François Rénier in Woluwe St. Pierre. “The handles in croco leather transform the bag into a luxury object which certainly is turning heads”. “Basically, my bags were more just to be showed”, agrees François Rénier. “The functionality comes in second place after the sheer style.” These were bags to be admired, just like a jewel. I created ten different paper bags and an equal number of handles in calf leather, goat- and ostrich leather. We discovered soon further possibilities to interchange handbags and handles. A game was born.” Mix and match for a new hand bag…every day of the month.
Always a unique hand bag
Soon the paper material was replaced for Parisian handmade bags in calf leather. Later we introduced buffalo leather, nubuck, woven leather/satin, machine woven textures using wool, canvas, imitation fur,… Hundreds of bags in all sizes. Thousands of different handles: snake, buffalo, pork, bull, (sting)ray, each time in tens of different colors, in varying lengths, different widths, with or without strass, the possible, combinations are endless and some examples really unique. “So we launched a few years ago handles which were made by a Meilleur Ouvrier de France (MOF)”, thus Rénier. “With all these possible combination, the chance that you meet someone with the same bag is very small indeed. And when you received them as a gift, you can change the combination in our boutique and adapt it to your very personal taste.” At François Rénier, we try to make a very traditional product with a very simple manufacturing process but with ultimate care and a luxurious and unexpected twist in this sense that you really can compose your very own bag.”
“Sometimes we have clients coming here who received a handbag as a present from their partner, but don’t like the handles”, tells Catherine Bousse. “We choose then together with the client new handles. Prices vary from 75 Euro for the short handles in cow leather to 425 Euro for the large handles in crocodile leather. Prices vary of course strongly in function of the material used.”
In the rhythm of the seasons…
François Rénier offers every season also new collections, but many of the bags in leather and textile are timeless. “What I love the most is that you can change the handles”, says Catherine Bousse. “Ideal when you hesitate between some colors. Then you just choose the handbag in the one color and the handles in the other. I prefer leather and nubuck for their aura, but I also love the bags in machine made woven material for their practicality. The bags are also quite handy and can be combined easily, and last but not least offer much space just like a shopping bag. Moreover, they are supple and very useful thanks to the pockets on the inside. Some of our models look on first sight to be open like a shopping bag, but François Rénier would not be François Rénier if he wouldn’t have paid attention to this detail. On the one hand, we can attach the musketons to the inside pockets, which not only makes the bags more orderly inside, but also safer. On the other hand, all the bags with bigger musketons can be closed completely by attaching the two handles together with a (big) musketon. Safety first! For those who prefer a zipper closure, François Rénier offers one model in two sizes.
The luxury of the unexpected
Since a few months, the concept is again available in our country. New this season are handbags in wool in not less than twelve new colors, nubuck in violet and Bordeaux red (style Médoc wine), woven leather in khaki, thick bull leather in ink blue, a mini size, the 22 CL (22 by 22) based on the size format of the original paper bags. A varied range of handbag jewels completes the assortment. “We try not to adopt a specific style, so we can offer all possible styles to our clients, says François Rénier. “Everybody can assemble a bag with us, which is truly unique. Moreover, our clients don’t have to let dictate themselves by the codes of fashion and luxury, but can transgress these codes. The luxury of the unexpected. This makes it so adventurous, so spectacular”.
François Rénier Paris – Un Jour Un Sac
Boutique Stockel – Rue de l’Église, 100 – 1150 Bruxelles – 02/770 45 55
Catherine Bousse, responsible for Belgium: +32 (0)478 88 20 73
open from Tuesday till Saturday, from 10h till 13h and from 14h till 18h30