PARIS — Celine launches a line of bespoke crocodile leather handbags, joining the ranks of luxury leatherworkers who are developing increasingly exclusive and rarefied products to meet the needs of affluent consumers.
The Celine Haute Maroquinerie collection, available from October, will feature its best-selling 16 and Triomphe handbag models in Nile crocodile leather, which comes in 14 shades, including a dusty pink called Marly and a rich hue chestnut called Riesener. Recognizable by its large scales, the exotic leather has been glazed to a brilliant shine with an agate stone.
Customers can choose from an assortment of 18k white or yellow gold hardware, including closures that can be personalized with diamonds, either pavé or solitaire. The ultimate example of stealthy wealth, the Triomphe clasp comes with a solitaire on the hidden part of the clasp. Initials can be engraved into the goatskin lining.
The house has refused to disclose the price of the handbags, reinforcing their aura as status items for the very wealthy.
The numbered bags will be produced by a dedicated artisan at Celine’s Italian leather workshop in Radda in Chianti in Tuscany, which overlooks rolling hills and vineyards. The craftsman is responsible for the entire assembly of the bag, from the selection of the skin to the cutting and sewing.
“Each bag is created in one piece. Leather cutting only occurs once the order is placed,” the house said in a statement. Each bespoke 16 handbag takes 17 hours to produce, while the Triomphe takes 12 hours to produce.
Creative director Hedi Slimane has been steadily expanding the brand’s high-end offering, even as he woos the TikTok generation with fashionable collectible flicks and $435 crop tops. In February, he unveiled an ad campaign featuring Blackpink’s Lisa for his haute perfumery collection, launched in 2019.
And the designer has sprinkled tailor-made creations, often made in collaboration with artists, in his ready-to-wear collections.
The 16 was her first creation after joining Celine in 2018, and was unveiled on Lady Gaga’s arm, making her the first celebrity to wear Slimane’s designs for the brand. The flap of the bespoke version has a crocodile underside, considered a technical feat because the leather is both delicate and rigid.
Each fine leather bag is accompanied by a matching leather-edged mirror, and is delivered in a leather-lined lacquered eucalyptus wood box, with a plaque that can be engraved with the owner’s name.
Parent company LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton has doubled down on exotic skins, despite protests from animal rights activists, who want the luxury conglomerate to follow the lead of Chanel, which said in 2018 it was stopping the use of leathers such as crocodile, lizard, snake and ray.
Louis Vuitton recently inaugurated two leather goods workshops in France specializing in bags made from exotic skins, while the renovated Dior flagship on avenue Montaigne offers an entire counter dedicated to bags made from rare materials such as crocodile, ostrich or of python.
Céline said that the skins in her fine leather goods collection come from a supplier certified by the International Crocodilian Farmers Association, a non-profit association created to develop and improve crocodilian farming practices in the respect of the well-being. animal being, the environment, people and local communities.
They are processed by an IFCA-associated tannery that is ISO 14001 certified, an industry-recognized standard based on respect for environmental management.
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