Brown Bag It

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Designer Jérôme Dreyfuss gets back to basics. By Karin Nelson


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By 25, Jérôme Dreyfuss had achieved all the high-profile success any young fashion designer could yearn for: There were stints at John Galliano, Givenchy, and Hervé Léger on his resume, the wildly influential stylist Isabella Blow had put a dress of his on the cover of Britain's Sunday Times, every major model—Nadja, Naomi, you name her—wanted to walk in his shows, and despite the fact that he didn't do menswear, Michael Jackson had called asking to be outfitted. Yet, as is often the case in fashion, such fanfare didn't pay the fabric bills. So Dreyfuss closed the company, took a good look around, and realized what women really needed were handbags.

"My wife, my friends—they didn't carry bags because the only people designing them five years ago were the couture houses," explains Dreyfuss, now 32, from his studio in Paris. "Instead, they wanted something simple, but just as beautifully made." Using supple organic skins tanned with vegetable dyes and cut with the kind of precision afforded to well-tailored trousers, Dreyfuss's bags balance structure and function with a lived-in, laid-back kind of vibe. From this season's Edmond, a clean-lined tote available in an earth-colored python, to our favorite, the Momo (about $420), a strappy, swingy leather pouch with a built-in mirror, Dreyfuss's bags assume an insouciant air of cool that is intrinsically French. "I don't want them to be pretentious," says Dreyfuss. "They're not made for the red carpet."

Jerome Dreyfuss bags are available in New York at Dernier Cri, 869 Washington Street, 212-242-6061, and Mick Margo, 19 Commerce Street, 212-463-0515. For more information, go to www.jerome-dreyfuss.com.

Designer Jérôme Dreyfuss gets back to basics.