Paris 1876… These were carefree days for the Parisians who flocked to the theatres, the Moulin Rouge, the new department stores and tree-lined boulevards. In Gai Paris, life was for living and enjoying… a time of légèreté. It was during these early years of the Belle Époque that Alphonse and Angèle Lancel opened a small pipe-making factory at 20, Passage des Petites Écuries.
1926: After specialising in articles for smokers, Lancel turned its attention to accessories for ladies as well as decorative objects. These new creations included the first handbags, made from tapir, sealskin and suede. At a time when the couture houses had yet to see the possibilities beyond simply “dresses”, Lancel was already imagining the accessories that would transform fashion.
1929: Lancel epitomised the Parisians’ newfound taste for shopping, with a dozen or so stores now open in the capital and other French cities. The inter-war years were a time of innovation for the brand, which branched out into tableware, travel items and any number of imaginative and original gifts. Parisian ladies adopted the ingenious “umbrella” bag, marvelled at the automatic lighter that “leaves gloves and hands spotlessly clean”, and fell in love with delightful evening bags whose flap concealed a mirror, drawstring purses and sophisticated powder compacts. Automobiles, trains and transatlantic liners stepped up the pace of travel: Lancel came to the rescue with its “Aviona” trunk. This was the year that Lancel moved to new premises at Place de l’Opéra in the heart of Paris. This new location would become a flagship store for the brand that so perfectly captured Parisian chic. Lancel appealed to the modern, emancipated, elegant woman. Mistinguett, Josephine Baker and Edith Piaf were all loyal patrons. And so Lancel confirmed its reputation as a truly modern brand.
1970’s: The brand expanded into international markets. In France, the parent company moved to the world’s most beautiful avenue, the Champs-Elysées. It focused on leather goods, and in 1984 the drawstring bag was born. Ingenious and original, it was inspired by the buckets the first firemen used to carry. Over three million have been sold. All over the world it is recognised as a symbol of Parisian elegance and imagination. It is also Lancel’s emblematic bag.
130 years later… and Lancel continues to celebrate the same carefree spirit, the same French légèreté of sheer elegance with a hint of frivolity. Lancel proudly asserts its history with two new creations that combine a modern style with authentic craftsmanship. Through the two “faces” of the brand, Laure Manaudou and Alice Taglioni, Lancel pays tribute to women with carefree interpretations of its classic designs. Each Lancel creation tells the story of the spirit that brought it to life: that of Paris, fashion and joie de vivre.
(Thursday, 20 August 2009) | luxury
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