Delvaux, Le 27. “Ceci n’est pas une boutique” Fashion - 11 July 2017
This spring, number 27 Boulevard de Waterloo – home of one of the two Delvaux boutiques in Brussels – has a fresh, beautiful look. The Belgian flavour of this transformation incorporates art and design in a way that is completely in line with the dazzling international development of the leather goods house. We met with Christine Zeller, the brand's artistic director, at the stylish, elegant salon of "Le 27".
When you joined Delvaux in 2011, what attracted you to the house?
Firstly, I was very aware of the opportunity I was being offered to contribute to the renewal of the oldest leather goods brand in the world. In this boutique, we very consciously chose to display a series of minaudières that are on the edges of our current collection, as a reminder that Delvaux invented the handbag. Our house has history, talented artisans and true tradition: these are our greatest treasures, which enable us to shine throughout the world.
At the beginning, you nonetheless chose to concentrate on something else...
The quality of our artisans no longer needs to be accentuated. Six years ago, I was brought in to develop ideas that would help highlight Delvaux's excellence, but in a completely different way than had been done before. My first task was thus to immerse myself in the archives, to find the inspiration to revitalise Delvaux.
You have achieved this mission, in particular, through designs with a touch of humour and whimsy. Can you explain your approach?
This quirky and often even surrealist approach has been part of the DNA of the House of Delvaux since its origins. But it was a little forgotten. So I chose to add some freshness to our iconic models such as Le Brillant, Le Tempête and Madame, models that are still our bestsellers today, and that we have subtly modernised to make more practical and wearable. We reworked the proportions of certain models, added straps to some and pockets to others, to make them equally attractive to a fashionable, sophisticated client in Brussels as in Tokyo.
You have also created some bags in transparent vinyl or fluorescent yellow leather, in special collections that pay tribute to Magritte or Alice in Wonderland, pastel models with multicoloured bellows, cut-outs on python and, most recently, a collection of Miniatures decorated with frites, mussels or a waffle. That seems rather audacious, doesn't it?
The international enthusiasm for our leather goods has given us a lot of freedom, both stylistically and technically. Until 2011, a lack of financial means prevented us from giving free range to the maestria of our artisans. Behind every original model – especially when it is funny and quirky like our new Miniatures – there is a complete mastery of leather work. For some bags in exotic skins, the precision of the cutting and stitching can be compared to goldsmithing. At Delvaux, we do not try to be trendy. The luxury of our house has no ostentation. We restrain it.
And that was also the case for the interior redesign at "Le 27" ...?
Exactly. The very irreverent portraits by Argentine painter Romina Ressia that decorate the walls of the stairwell seem made to measure for the space. Originally, they were only intended to be there for the inauguration period, but we have not been able to bring ourselves to take them down.
The interior design of the boutique was thought out down to the last detail. Tell us about how the distinctive furnishings create a dialogue with the Delvaux bags.
« Le 27 » embodies what Belgium does best. That's why Jean-Marc Loubier (President and CEO of the investments group First Heritage Brands, which owns Delvaux) decided to integrate a collection – that he himself sought out – of items of furniture and lighting signed by Belgians Jules Wabbes, Pieter de Bruyne, Renaat Braem, Nathalie Dewez, Ben Storms and Alain Berteau. This synopsis of 20th and 21st century Belgian design was also a wink to the Belgian market, which, strangely, has been less receptive to our renaissance than our Asian or American clients.
by Marie Honnay
Delvaux, boulevard de Waterloo, 27 1000 Brussels
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