Paris Match

Getting carried away with two new French imports. By Meredith Fisher
Just because the Euro could eat the dollar for breakfast, doesn't mean all French design is out of reach. Grab hold of these two French handbag designers who are making it easy and relatively affordable to ride out the accessory recession, with designs that are fully functional but far from just basic.
The first comes from a 24-year veteran of the accessories business—from Lamarthe, to Paloma Picasso, and even a stint with Hedi Slimane at Dior—Stéphane Verdino's premiere namesake collection has been in the making since he was 16. "The direct inspiration for the line was the design of the 20th century, the modern art, and, of course, some of the fashion brands that I admire, like Margiela and Comme des Garçons," says Verdino. "When I did my first line, I wondered what kind of bags I could do for those brands, and the first collection was born out of that spirit." The result is a collection built around a few classic shapes, like the Cabas Vertical (translation: the perfect tote) or the 48 Heures (translation: overnight, not overstuffed). "When you decide to do a product with your name on it, you really have to be honest and true," he says. "And my style is pure, radical, and with no concessions—I think this is the biggest quality for the people who like my brand." Each authentic style comes in a variety of the softest leathers (vernis, cuir, and perforé), and colors that range from neutral to neon, so the size of the handbag statement is up to you, not the other way around.
Similar in concept but different in design is Tila March, a year-old brand from Tamara Taichman and Nicolas Burdigo that was born overnight—literally. "Tamara had an idea for a bag that was both fashionable and convenient, so she designed it, and I made a prototype for her," recalls Burdigo, an executive in the leather-goods business. "She carried it during the Paris fashion shows (she's a fashion editor), and some of the buyers there saw the bag and asked us to deliver it—like now!" Just over a year later, that same bag, the Zelig, has become the signature of this burgeoning brand and is on the stock lists of Colette and Holt Renfrew. While the mark of Tila March is the leather tongue and two-toned style, the duo doesn't plan on limiting themselves to this single signature. "Tamara is already developing other lines in keeping with our spirit: fashionable, timeless, recognizable, and hopefully, not too obvious."
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Getting carried away with two new French imports.

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