published in SSAW Magazine Fall/Winter 2013, p. 214-223

When thoughts ponder on the oldest fine leather luxury goods company, a sensual exchange unfolds. A semi-fictive conversation of a group of three: the creative director of the house of Delvaux (thinking), the master craftsman of the house of Delvaux (working) and an anonymous enthusiast of the house of Delvaux (dreaming). While fantasies unfold and ideas are being exchanged, we discover what it means to love leather and luxury, what it means to craft and create – and how it feels to hold a piece of perfection.

Chapter I: 
The Creative Director

It is a pleasure to meet you, may I ask how you are today?
Feeling excited to be in Paris presenting our Spring/Summer 2014 collection.

Imagine an intimate dinner party. What are you wearing? 
A white jeans and our Brillant Black Edition Nude bag.

What would you like as aperitif?
Our Brillant cocktail, based on Blanche de Bruges beer with a touch of champagne and strawberries.

When did you start working for Delvaux?
Two years ago.

What does the house of Delvaux mean to you?
Delvaux means that I finally found the house that is matching myself completely.

What does it symbolize?
Good luck.

How would you describe your personal style compared to the aesthetic universe of Delvaux?  
Feeling elegant but always with a twist and touch of fun and paradox.

Past, present, future – what era and time do you prefer?
Love all three: past for heritage and history, present to optimize the time and future for new challenges.

What are you aiming for?
To be faithful to the Delvaux core values and bringing the house to the level it deserves.

What does pride mean to you?
Never doing things you do not trust.

How would you describe your character?
Enthusiastic, passionate, dedicated, curious.

How can we envision your creative process, your style and attitude when it comes to exploring ideas? 
Sharing ideas as a team and coming together to an agreement, feeling like a sponge who absorbs everything around without any boundaries.

How does a scene in the Delvaux studio look like?
Looking all the time after papers, drawings, and leather swatches. The studio is a big mess despite all efforts.

Would you rather describe yourself a visual connoisseur, artist or philosopher?
A third, a third, and a third…

If you were to write the ten commands of great image and design, how would they start?
You should… open your eyes. You should not… listen to everybody. You should never… launch something you are not convinced of.

What is your favourite mistake?
I love all of them.

Which meaning do you associate with the word 'it' within it-bag?
The it-bag policy is not Delvaux’s strategy.

What touches your senses?
Perfect proportions and perfect manufactory, subtle and precious colours, the touch of Delvaux leather.

What is your favourite emotion?
To cry.

What do you feel when you see your accomplishments?
I feel that I am belonging to a wonderful family in which each one has its own important role.

Which materials attract you most?
Stingray for its exclusivity.

Fetish holds a very specific meaning within the fashion terminology. Which fetishes do the Delvaux designs propel?
The incredible touch of our leather linings.

What is the metaphorical value of giving luxury leather goods as a present?
Its sensuality and long-term commitment.

How would you advise women to style their look with a Delvaux handbag? Jewellery, hat, gloves?
They don’t need anything else… just being themselves.

Which textures, materials and colours are going to be caressed by our touch next season?
Mother of pearl python, stingray, crocodile, printed leather in tropical colours such as flamingo, ocean, sunset as well as soft and sensual ones as lagoon, nude and sand.

What is next? Which images are wafting on your current mind mood board?
Unsure certainties.

An espresso for dessert? A cigarette?

Will you take a cab? Or walk?
A cab.

Can I call you tomorrow?

Chapter II: 
The Master Craftsman

Good evening, Monsieur. May I take your coat?

Did you have a nice day so far?

How does one become a master craftsman?
I studied fashion design. After graduating, I worked in some restaurants and realized I want to create things, so I started to study ‘leather goods’ for three years at Arts et Métiers in Brussels. I did an internship at Delvaux for one month. My teacher was Mister Mohammed Benelcaïd, one of the master craftsmen at Delvaux – he has been working there for 40 years now… the best teacher ever. They called me after my internship and hired me.

Tell us about your team, how would you describe the relationship?
Our relationship is professional and sympathetic.

How strict is the hieratic structure and which importance do clear rules hold in a traditional production context?
The hieratic structure is strict but we work with confidence and responsibility.

How is a bag born? Please talk us through the most important steps.
Everything starts with a mood board based on the season theme with inspirational images that evoke strong feelings of desire. The studio team chooses the materials: the right leather, the right color, the right accessory, the right shape – leading to first drawings. Then, the research and development department takes those drawings and creates a prototype that is put into production.

What is done differently at Delvaux?
We are perfectionist. Unless 100% are achieved, we don’t introduce a new design into our collection. It can take us up to one year to perfect a new design.

Which tools are the most precious to you within the creation process?
Hands, eyes, thoughts and above all: mastery.

Luxury – what does the term mean to you?
Perfection and details.

Why Delvaux?
Delvaux is a prestigious house with craftsmanship of more than 180 years. Moreover, Delvaux is a Belgian company. I also think that Delvaux is a leader in adapting new technologies for an improved production process.

Which aspect interests you in leather goods?
The touch and to work with the best leather in the world.

Which is your favourite item?
The Brillant in Alligator Goldfinger but I also really love the simple Louise Cabas.

Which element would you define essential?

Would you prefer utterly practical products – or is the decorative part a functional aspect as well?
Of course I prefer to have a beautiful bag with decorative parts but it still needs to remain functional. This is what we try to do at Delvaux: to create design that is beautiful and functional at the same time.

Every leather good is hand-made and its various parts carefully applied. Which part is the most challenging?
The most challenging part is the ‘goussets’ (piece of leather on the sides of the handbag) and the handles.

Do you dream about the work process?
Yes, I often dream about it. Telling myself: we could do this or that, we could improve this or that…

Do you like art?
Yes, I like art. I think that those who like to create, like art just as much.

Shall we go to an exhibition tomorrow?
I have to work but I would have loved.

Which museum or show would you pick?
Les Beaux-Arts in Brussels.

Do you have a Sunday routine? Something you love to do all by yourself?
Having a walk. And ironing my clothes.

Chapter III: 
The Anonymous Enthusiast

Good evening, Madame. How was your day?
Exhausting but quite exhilarating.

What do you love about shopping?
The search, the thrill. I like to express myself through clothes and I get excited when I find something that matches my ideals and fantasies. The feeling that something ultimately belongs to me is priceless. I have to have it. The best shopping is intuitive, without second-guessing, impulsive. I guess it's true: shopping is better than sex.

Can expensive ever be too expensive?
Expensive is relative. Yes, some things are expensive, others aren't. But that's not what matters to me. I like thrift-shopping, rediscovering things i haven't worn in a long time in the corner of my closet. Being able to collect and surround yourself with things you like and have a personal attachment to, is the important part. It doesn't matter how much it cost. So in a way, 'expensive' as a word doesn't exist to me. It's all about personal value.

Where are your limits?
I am very selective. I know what I want and I will do everything to get it. Honesty is a rule, and dishonesty my personal limit.

Which values do you hold on to?

What do you long for?

How many bags do you own?
About forty.

Which one of them is dearest to your heart? And why?
Humeur de Brillant. A white handwriting on the bag says ‘Ceci n'est pas un Delvaux’ – I love Magritte. For me, that bag evokes the perfect form of desire: surrealism that can become reality.

Who gave it to you? A gift to yourself?
A woman silently enjoys.

Why handbags?
They are practical; they deliver a function but add a second layer to its wearer. They are also sculptures in a way. No wonder every woman loves to collect them.

Why leather?
First of all, there is the haptic experience that creates the first instant connection. The softness, the matte shine, and the fine surface you can sense when slowly touching the leather with closed eyes. It feels warm somehow. And it is timeless. A material that looks pretty when new but grows on grace and beauty with age. I could do leather head-to-toe!

Why luxury?
Giving attention and appreciation to oneself and others is the highest state of satisfaction and the true meaning of luxury.

Were you ever interested in or dreaming of being a designer yourself?
Not really. I appreciate designers for every idea they create.

Have you been to the Biennale in Venice? Your thoughts?
I liked the atmosphere this time. Of course it is a big hype and the art market becomes a little pop circus but at the same time it regains a certain relaxed-ness. I love the fact that we finally overcame the discussion of painting versus sculpture, or photography versus painting. As in fashion, everything goes. And I think that is liberating right now. Though, I am looking forward to the next Schule – so to say. It is going to be interesting to see what the freedom of genres and markets will create. In which forms will subculture emerge again? I am looking forward to Neo-Dada. A highly educated establishment-anti-establishment art, maybe?

How do you live? How would you describe your interior style?
Eclectic. I have a thing for little things that sparkle and I love books. At the same time, I always try to get rid of too many things. It's a constant interior flux so to say.

What is more important to you: home decoration or clothes?

How would you describe your look in one word?

Would you like a dessert?
Strawberry cheese cake please.

Shall we go on a shopping spree together?