Marie-Laurence Stevigny. The shadow of the bag. Fashion - 16 November 2016
She is as discreet as she is elegant. As sophisticated as she is snowed under. For more than 20 years, the Belgian Marie Laurence Stevigny, a graduate of the school of the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture parisienne, has been teaming up with brands of accessories: from small French houses to American multinationals, she has built a career that carry the hallmarks of craftsmanship and the human touch.
Perhaps you have already donned one of the lamb gloves she designs each season for the French brand Agnelle. Perhaps, without knowing that it bore her signature, you have been seduced by the pure lines of a Pourchet bag. Or, maybe you own a Tintamar, Samsonite, Nike or Lacoste accessory, some of the mainstream brands with which Marie Laurence Stevigny has already joined forces. During her studies, the Belgian, now based in Saint-Gilles, specialised in the art of 3D creation. She trained with Balmain, then with the accessories department of Nina Ricci who, in 1990, decided to hire her. Over the seasons, Marie-Laurence Stevigny developed an eye for detail, fine-tuned her style and discovered the French art of beautiful fashion.
A translator of ideas
For the past 5 years, the Belgian has been designing the collections of French glove-maker Agnelle. "My job is to translate ideas into drawings that can be produced by the workshops of the brands that I collaborate with. In the case of a glove, the surface on which one can express oneself is microscopic. Where I’m lucky with Agnelle is that, technically everything is possible or almost. The know-how of the production workshops leaves me a great freedom of action.” Creating a need is therefore one of the objectives of Marie Laurence Stevigny. The other is telling stories. "You have to not only respect the values of the brand, its vocabulary, but also create a story that is conveyed through a single piece of the collection. In the case of Pourchet, for example, I start off with a diamond print canvas, the brand’s DNA, and create different versions of it."
When designing a bag or a glove, Marie Laurence Stevigny gives free rein to her creativity, but is careful to avoid any ostentation: "I hate it when a woman looks self-conscious because of the accessory she is wearing. I like to simplify the expression as much as possible while offering maximum comfort of use." This attention to detail is probably what enabled her to collaborate with brands with such contrasting universes. Alongside her collaborations with Pourchet or Agnelle - a label for which she also designs a line of bags signed Marie Laurence Stevigny by Agnelle which won her a prize last year and some points of sale in Asia - the Belgian has worked hand in hand with giants such as Lacoste or Nike. "I work instinctively without really trying to compartmentalise my work, but I've noticed that my projects tend not to converge into one." During her career, Marie Laurence Stevigny has designed luggage sets for the Bentley and Aston Martin brands, as well as Nike bags – one-offs - carried by tennis player Maria Sharapova at major international tournaments.
At the time of this interview, Marie Laurence Stevigny had just started a new collaboration with a large French fashion house while laying the foundations for her very own brand. "I’ve never had a big ego. Working behind the scenes doesn’t bother me, but at this stage I want to start a project of my own. This new, still confidential chapter, does not prevent her from pursuing her collaborations with other brands: "Last year, I took the Thalys a hundred or so times and I made 13 trips to China. When I develop a collection, I only spend about 50% of the time alone in the privacy of my studio. The other 50, I'm in direct contact with my client. "The ultimate goal of Marie Laurence Stevigny: to design quality pieces that are made to last. “As a designer, I think this dimension is one of our priorities, values that should guide our creative process.”
Par Marie Honnay