Magazine, Autumn/Winter 2009/2010
â€” by Veronique Branquinho Box Calf, Glazed finish calf with square markings - 150 examples
Delvaux Magazine is published by Delvaux Créateur S.A./N.V., François Schwennicke & Christian Salez Blvd Louis Schmidtlaan, 7 1040 Brussels - Belgium Tel: 02/738.00.40 Fax: 02/738.00.50 email@example.com www.delvaux.com
Contributors Jean Oppalfens, Creative Director As a pure designer, Jean finds his inspiration first and foremost in product design, architecture and fashion. For the last 15 years or so he’s been the driving force behind Flink. “To me, Delvaux means ‘luxury with soul’. You immediately get the impression that every item has been specially created for you, with the perfect balance between quality, craftsmanship and emotion. You don’t just choose a Delvaux, it’s more a meeting of kindred spirits.”
Editorial coordinator Aline Dewever
Veerle Windels Christopher Ballantine Francesca Caseri
Arnaud de Harven / Victoire By² Photographers Charlie De Keersmaecker Diane Hendrikx Elisabeth Broekaert Filip Vanzieleghem Frederic Sablon Island, Fan Hoi-Chin Jacques Sonck Johan Jacobs Lalo Gonzalez Marc Segal Nickel, Long Ka-Shun Thomas Lillo Tierney Gearon Willem Kuijpers
Concept & Graphic Design
Didier Vervaeren Vicky Haesaert, Frank Schouwaerts, Marieke Bueters, Bodo Peeters, Laurent Lenders, Jean Oppalfens – for Flink
Nothing in this magazine may be reproduced in whole or in part without the prior written permission of the publisher. The publisher cannot be held responsible for the views and opinions expressed in this magazine by authors and contributors. Een Nederlandse versie kan worden aangevraagd op www.delvaux.com. La version française peut être commandée sur www.delvaux.com. Registration of personal data Your data will be registered in the Delvaux customer database. This data will be used to send the magazine to you and to keep you up to date with forthcoming offers, promotions or other Delvaux activities. In accordance with the law regarding the protection of privacy, you are entitled to see and alter your details. You can unsubscribe from forthcoming electronic and other communications on www.delvaux.com.
| Autumn/Winter 2009/10
Filip Vanzieleghem, photographer I’ve been aware of the Delvaux name ever since I was a kid without really knowing what it stood for. However, thanks to working with the House, I got to know it from the inside out and I now understand why it’s a bit of a legend here in Belgium. What’s most fascinating at Delvaux is the perfect balance between craftsmanship and innovation. Delvaux is no longer just a brand for older generations; thanks to its daring collaborations and innovation, Delvaux commands respect from anyone who values top quality, design and craftsmanship. I’m really looking forward to seeing what the House has in store for us over the next few years...
Francesca Caseri, journalist I always used to think that a Delvaux bag was dear. It took a visit to the House’s studio and seeing all the successive steps involved, cutting, trimming, assembly, preparing precious leathers by hand, or to the ‘beauty salon’ for bags in search of a second youth, to get the right idea. Delvaux bags are beautiful and really are dear... to the hearts of those who buy them.
EDITORIAL Respectable luxury The House Delvaux is celebrating its 180th anniversary. What better occasion to cast a glance back at the path we have trodden and at all the elements which have allowed us to become who we are today? The fact that Delvaux has always worked with external artists or designers to re-examine its traditional know-how. Or that each product continues to be made in limited series by a master craftsman who signs each one he creates. Our basic aim has always been to respect our customers, as much through our approach to the craftsmanship which starts with a meticulous and uncompromising choice of raw materials, as through a reasonable balance between the production costs and final sale price. And this continues right up to the service in the shop and perhaps, even more importantly, the After-Sales service which means we can repair articles bought 30 years ago or even longer! All this has allowed the House to become a brand in the finest sense of the term, a brand you can trust. Looking to the past is always exciting, especially when it gives us an understanding of where we have come from so that we can face the future better. We want to remain a creative House, for everyone who seeks a little extra soul in everything that surrounds them. We believe in quality, in fascinating collaborations which often add up to more than the sum of their parts. We also love traditions as long as they do not lock us into the past. We hold true to our course, but without fear of the occasional detours which are often a source of learning. We never cease to question ourselves about what our customers expect and want from us and we are not afraid to make mistakes as they are always an opportunity for growth. Yet at the same time, we have never lost sight of what our fundamental values are and which have led us to distance ourselves from the recent approach where luxury has become confused with ostentation. At the dawn of a new era of consumption based on rarity, durability, heirlooms and, above all, the quest for new meaning, we feel ready and prepared to continue on our chosen path and hope to meet you along the way.
François Schwennicke Executive Chairman
Christian Salez Chief Executive Officer
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8-9 I’ll write to you about colours 10-13 Neo 14-17 Veronique Branquinho, Delvaux’s new artistic director 18-21 Autumn/Winter 2009/10 Elegance is in fashion
22-27 Baroness Schwennicke leafs through the Gold Book 28-30 180 years of continuing innovation
50-51 The 1829 Men’s Line by Bruno Pieters 52-53 №12 by Scabal & Delvaux
32-39 Close Encounters
54-59 The Arsenal, Delvaux’s beating heart
40-43 The making of Folder stefan schöning
60-63 Delvaux, glory in every stitch
44-49 Studio Delvaux
64-66 Enduring Values
68-71 Hong Kong, where tradition rises over 80 storeys high 72-73 Where to find Delvaux
From top to bottom: Toolbox - Tatoo - Dot/Spot - Graffiti/Tag - Hug/Crush/Kiss
I’ll write to you about colours When modern literature meets the classics, what is the story? One of gleaming leathers branded Delvaux and a collection called ‘Leathers and Letters’.
Writing shared between you and Delvaux. And the ‘Leathers and Letters’ collection is there to prove it. A collection that encompasses everything about writing. From slip covers for exercise books or notepads to other stationery items bearing the Delvaux stamp which are all available separately. But also little writing cases, envelopes in leather, from business card size to the classic A5, and pencil cases. All resplendent in smooth or full grain leathers and always handcrafted following the House’s cherished traditions. A collection which blends beauty with function. Because life, even in the office, is too short to be boring. That’s why this collection has a playful as well as a practical side. The proof lies in the names engrained on these precious leathers: Chat, Mail, File, Hug, Crush and Kiss. No fewer than 14 models in total. But also the vibrant colours which are paired, an interplay
of stitching and burnishing. Which give new life to otherwise “redundant” leathers, veritable treasures.
To the letter Sold in limited editions until the end of 2009 in all the Delvaux shops, as well as those of the House’s exclusive partners, the ‘Leathers and Letters’ collection is ambitious. And with good reason. Part of the profits from their sale will be donated as a Special Award to one of the winners of the 2009 Belgian Post Office Literacy Fund’s call for projects. Because knowing how to read and write remains an essential element of communicating, blossoming and evolving in the heart of one’s environment. So it will be very difficult to resist the appeal of this exceptional collection which will offer some people the opportunity to take
their first steps into the world of luxury. For others, this collection sends out a strong message to all those around them, whether in their private or business life. That of a universe where it is vital to leave one’s mark, like a desire to express one’s creativity, to rise above the common herd. An infectious seduction which should definitely be taken literally.
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As an arbiter of taste, the best news from the House Delvaux is reserved for you. International titbits, hot off the press, real stop press items, but also limited editions of the highest order. You can browse through them all in NEO.
Guy Leclef on show in Delvaux shops Essential, original, material, sensual... these are the main characteristics of the work of Guy Leclef, Studio Delvaux’s guest (p. 44). This Belgian collage artist has been expressing his universe in paper and cardboard for years, but it’s only recently that he has worked with leather. For this extraordinary project, the artist was given discarded leather by the House Delvaux with which to work. Leclef immediately felt that leather had a compelling rhythm. Sometimes measured, sometimes playful. It was this rhythm that the collage artist found challenging. The result? Fifteen works specially created for Delvaux, of which the masterpiece, ‘Brillanz’, was created in collaboration with the head of Studio Delvaux.
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A Brillant handbag, cut into three pieces, cast in perspex. Anyone visiting Guy Leclef’s website will soon see how multi-faceted this artist is. Sometimes his work is in a Pop Art context, sometimes it looks like genuine ‘arte povera’. His work is a mixture of fascinating collages (he loves faces), which hide an unwavering sense of humour and simultaneously wink at daily life. The result of the collaboration between this artist and Delvaux will travel between the different Delvaux shops. www.guyleclef.be
Delvaux and Caran d’Ache Since the beginning of May, the luxury Houses Delvaux and Caran d’Ache have had a presence near La Croisette in Cannes. Both brands have the same values and that is why their tradition, craftsmanship and innovation share a similar outlook. The first Caran d’Ache pen was launched in 1924 and is still being made in Switzerland (or, to be more precise, Geneva) to this day. It represents a predilection for perfection and an eye for detail. Just like Delvaux, this House sets great store by service and durability. Reasons enough to unite both brands under the same roof.
Delvaux Glasses Delvaux is launching its first collection of glasses. Timeless designs which exude class and quality. Fourteen frames for prescription lenses and seven sunglasses. Their true quality is in the details which are often to do with leather. Would you expect anything less from Delvaux? The leather on the arms is subtly stamped with the name or logo. The glasses case itself is a highly desirable object, beautifully covered in Delvaux leather and decorated with a small gilded brass lozenge. The colours are at once classic and contemporary, in shades of black, coffee and red. The frames for prescription lenses will be available from September, the sunglasses from November. Delvaux has collaborated with Netoptic, a Belgian company from Tubize which has been producing high quality glasses for over thirty years. Indeed, Netoptic is the prime exponent of the exceptional PVD technology whereby gold, titanium or palladium are treated so that they last five times longer than with ordinary galvanising. The company is also responsible for distribution to the better opticians in Belgium and abroad. The sunglasses will, of course, be available in a selection of Delvaux stores.
Delvaux lines up with Ego Lifestyle Laptops can be far more than just efficient and practical. This is something that the trendsetters at Ego Lifestyle understand. They produce laptops whose packaging steals the show. Ego Lifestyle has a wide range on offer, headed by the Bentley collection. As the name implies, this collection revolves around quality, precision and craftsmanship. And it is for this very collection that the Dutch company has called on Delvaux. Craftsmen from the Arsenal and from Bentley have worked in close collaboration to create this limited collection. Typical Bentley leather is used for the exterior finish of the laptops. It goes without saying that only an extremely high standard of handcraftsmanship is required, for the smallest details as well as the overall finishing. Here is one of the most striking details: the number of stitches ahead of and behind the point where the stitches cross is identical. The Bentley collection is being launched in a limited edition of 250 examples with a six week delivery date. Available from Fnac Brussels or via www.ego-lifestyle.com.
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Delvaux double D jewellery Up until now, there have been four pieces in the Delvaux Ligne Argent collection. This has now grown to fifteen. The new models surprise and delight by playing with the shapes of the iconic D and their variations in length and volume. A ring, a short necklace, a longer pendant, a wide bangle and a pair of small earrings... the designs are different, but they have one thing in common: all are made in silver and have an extremely contemporary look. There is the possibility that there will be versions of this jewellery line in white and yellow gold. The intention is to broaden Ligne Argent further and to develop four or so different lines.
Basket by Charles Kaisin In the context of his solo exhibition at Grand Hornu, Charles Kaisin is relaunching his ‘basket’ design. The Belgian designer created this unusual bag in 2002, working closely with the House Delvaux, but is giving his design a new lease of life. Exactly one hundred examples will be sold in two tones (such as beige and anthracite grey, taupe and sky blue, brick red and honey). “The bag was the result of my studies into extensions with designer Ron Arad in London,” says Charles Kaisin, who received his Master’s from London’s Royal College of Art in 2001. “I made the various initial prototypes in paper and cardboard. The cutting and shaping took days of work. It was impressive to see the many craftsmen at work in the studio and to learn from them at close quarters. Learning how to use materials really entranced me. Just like the hard work of choosing the right type of leather, the wires, the finishing of this rather refined object. This remains an exceptional project in my portfolio.” www.charleskaisin.com
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Handmade ‘Handmade’, a luxury publication in which handcraft is the main theme, is an international co-edition with the Belgian publisher Tectum. Just twenty companies whose focus is on the handmade character of their creations are featured in the book. Where handmade cars, boats, whisky, bows, shoes, suits and chocolates shine out in addition to the leather goods from the House Delvaux. Together with Scabal from Brussels, Delvaux flies the Belgian flag; the rest of the projects, such as Santoni Shoes, Silvestris bows, Wiesmann cars and Glashütte Original watches come from abroad. For Tectum Books’ Philippe De Baeck, as the oldest luxury leather goods House in the world, Delvaux could not be omitted from such a book. ‘Handmade’ is a 224-page illustrated book written by journalist Gerben Bijpost. It is published in four languages (English, French, Dutch and Italian) and is distributed all around the world. Anyone leafing through it will find a restful layout which majors on detail. www.tectum.be
Leather workshops Don’t be surprised if you come across Delvaux craftsmen in one of the House’s shops in the coming months. They’ve recently made it their mission to give a leather initiation course to children of the House’s customers, between 8 and 12 years old. The craftsmen explain all about the origins of quality leathers, the many operations in the tanneries, as well as about the creations they make with the leathers.
And there’s more. They give their students the opportunity to make a leather item and show them some of the tricks of the trade as they do so. The craftsmen are touring the shops to give children and parents alike a glimpse behind the scenes. Isn’t this a privilege everyone would want?
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— Delvaux’s new artistic director —
Veronique Branquinho has recently joined the House Delvaux as artistic director. And the internationally renowned Belgian has a clear vision of what she hopes to offer Delvaux.
“I have a huge predilection for craftsmanship, for everything that is handcrafted, and that’s precisely what Delvaux stands for. We have had mutual respect for one another’s work for quite some time. I’ve also always striven to achieve a certain timelessness, a certain discretion, I’m not interested in flashy effects.” Branquinho also respects Delvaux’s huge heritage. In her own fashion collections she has always built on what already exists and she intends to do the same at Delvaux. “I’ve always sought evolution: retaining the good elements and adding something
new. Many of Delvaux’s handbags deserve a place of honour in today’s collections. I want to give these models back their greatness in the current collection. I’ve already chosen a few, in a period ranging from the fifties to the eighties. Their design has stood the test of time and that’s what makes them real icons. Delvaux has such a vast creative heritage which I can revisit every season and renew in terms of materials, appearance, image. Just like my own clothing collections, I want to create an image, invent a universe, bring an extra dimension to the world of Delvaux.”
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“The values which I hold dear include discreet elegance for example. The quest for a pleasing combination of contemporary and timeless.”
All the elements are already in place, Branquinho insists, but you can still be innovative with a bit of subtle reworking. “I love things that aren’t immediately obvious. I think it’s important that part of the mystery is retained. For instance I’m a great fan of the film director David Lynch, whose work looks classic at first sight, but if you look more closely it rewards you with unexpected dimensions.” With her new designs, the new artistic director hopes to be able to give further impetus to Delvaux’s international image. “Delvaux is a House with a name which
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needs explanation outside our borders. With the traditions and talents we have, I think that the House’s Belgian origins are a real bonus.” With this, Veronique Branquinho is saying that she has no specific public in mind, but rather people who have a particular ‘spirit’, people who seek elegance. “People who know how to bring something special to their lives and are therefore open to new things which are also lasting.” What has struck her most about Delvaux is the love of the calling, the quest for beauty. “It’s certainly an
exceptional approach which deserves to be cherished in these times when everything’s about quantity. A Delvaux is something to treasure for a long time, and that singularity is something I will bring to my designs; a look which is modern, but which can also stand the test of time.”
The collaboration between Veronique Branquinho and the House Delvaux started this winter and resulted in three handbags. Three handbags for which the fashion designer dreamt up unusual names, which immediately created an appropriate feeling. Veronique explains:
— Ame Libre
Destrier Souple Ivoire
Ame Libre “With Ame Libre (Free Spirit) I wanted to create the impression of a bag for the active, modern woman who always needs to carry a lot with her. But despite the fact it’s very different from gigantic bags, it’s still very multifunctional.”
Message Ambigu “Message Ambigu (Ambiguous Message) is an envelope, so there could well be a ‘message’ in it. At the same time, it’s ‘ambiguous’, equivocal, because we primarily think of an envelope bag in the context of evening wear, but I’ve made a daytime version.”
— Message Ambigu
Destrier Souple Gris Souris
Regard Passager “Regard Passager (Fleeting Glance) is once again a highly styled bag. A bag for the discerning woman who notices when someone steals a fleeting glance at her, but doesn’t let on.”
— Regard Passager
Box Calf Noir
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â€” Elegance is in fashion â€” The new Autumn/Winter 2009/10 collection is as relaxed as it is elegant. It will keep you warm all winter through thanks to its glowing colours.
Cappuccino Toile Naturel Fauve Givry Cabas Toile Macaron Poudré Chicago Ladycalf Poudré
Etole Delvaux Poudré
These new creations in Delvaux’s shops will enhance the existing collections. There is also a prestigious new collaboration represented by three exceptional models, that of Delvaux with Belgian designer Veronique Branquinho (p. 14). This season’s strong point is undoubtedly its colours. Pastel colours, warm yet feminine, enrich the families. The materials, including a new Toile de Cuir (an exclusive Delvaux leather weaving process), play their part in this harmonious blend of style and relaxation. Finally, there are variations in shape and size which provide a new practicality in line with today’s tastes. All that’s needed to seduce women, and men too.
In addition to the three models designed by Veronique Branquinho (Ame Libre, Regard Passager and Message Ambigu), the Autumn/Winter 2009/10 collection also has new models in the 1829 Men’s Line by Bruno Pieters (p. 50). There is a computer bag called the President Bag, a weekend bag, a toilet bag and a belt. But that’s not all. Each family in turn welcomes new models and new finishes. The Dolce Vita family has its Toile Macaron for fashion gourmets. The Wave family has a new Raspberry-coloured square scarf. The Louise and Givry families have also acquired new functions. Whether in the form of a shopping bag carried on the shoulder, new style pouches, ultrapractical baudriers or even clutch bags worn on a belt. All highly appreciated elements which can adapt their style each day to suit the wearer’s changing moods. These are timeless values which comprise the spirit of the family according to the House Delvaux, an inexhaustible source of stylish discoveries.
Because the image we present consists of subtle elegant touches, Delvaux has extended its range of accessories. Whether it’s a new belt for women, different sized diaries or even very affordable keyrings. As for textiles, comfort concedes nothing to the fresh and smart allure of scarves and shawls; for this, satin has been transformed into silk crepe. The colours range from Dusty Pink to Raspberry, via colours with evocative names such as Sunrise, Taupe, Coffee, Nutmeg or Lipstick Red. There are also many different gloves which pamper the hand, with linings designed for comfort and softness. Long live autumn!
Dune Ladycalf Fauve
Ciao Toile Macaron Poudré
Covent Garden Ladycalf Poudré
Givry MM Ladycalf Fauve
Delvaux’s amazing families
From Baroness Solange Schwennicke’s point of view
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“Every period was thrilling” When the Delvaux Museum opens its doors, the two Gold Books will hold a place of honour. These valuable assets are not simply the memory of this luxury House, they also recount the history of the handbag. Who better than Baroness Solange Schwennicke, who led Delvaux’s creative team for many years, to leaf through it with us?
Baroness Solange Schwennicke looks unchanged. A vigorous one metre eighty, firm handshake and an ever-present twinkle in her eye. She has long been a presence in the fashion world as a member of jury panels at fashion academies, and when she was still responsible for the Delvaux creative team, she was frequently interviewed about the ins and outs of the House and the handbag business in general. Her opinion has always been valued. Even then she didn’t mince her words, she told it like it was. That is something that hasn’t changed. “I’ve always been fascinated by this profession”, she says, opening the first book carefully. “It was often a tough challenge, but it was always exciting.”
The first Gold Book was started at the end of the 1930s by Franz Schwennicke, Baroness Schwennicke’s husband, who took over the House in 1933. The exact year was 1938, just before the Second World War. We know this because the date is written after the very first entry in the book. “That was when Franz started separate collections for spring and autumn,” says Baroness Schwennicke. “It was a revolutionary move at the time, to launch two new collections each year. He mirrored the idea of the Paris couturiers who also showed two new collections each year. For him, Paris was the great example. There were other leather goods houses in Brussels, but creativity was never at their hearts. However, creating was all Franz wanted to do.”
Memories Every new design was entered into the book as a small yet precise pencil drawing. In the early years, each design was accompanied by the names of the designers, so we find Parant and Koch, later the name of the design was also included next to the drawing. Occasionally the base price was also noted down. “The Gold Book holds this company’s memories,” says Baroness Schwennicke. “My husband didn’t want anything to be lost. This can even still be useful today. Imagine that somebody comes into one of our shops with a very old bag for a specific repair. The craftsmen will consult the book so that the bag can be repaired in exactly the right way. Above all, the Gold Book brings clarity to the creative team. When you’re in the middle of the creative process, it’s easy to lose sight of the bigger picture. My husband wanted to avoid that.”
“The Gold Books remain a continuing source of inspiration for the Delvaux creative team.” “I was always happy to leaf through the books,” says Baroness Schwennicke. “They were never locked away. I often encouraged the designers to look through them. ‘Take a look at the forties’, I’d say. ‘Those were interesting years.’ Look at the clutch bags from that era. Nowadays, that’s a problematical model because today’s active woman wants to stuff so much into her bag. But in those days, women
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only needed a handbag on Sundays, for church. Different times, different needs.” Nevertheless, the book seems to be full of very contemporary looking designs. Certain models could quite easily take their place in the shops today and sell well. They look far fresher than their years. “Absolutely. Many of the designs look quite modern. They’re often very graphic, but certainly modern.”
Volume Suddenly Baroness Solange Schwennicke’s eye spots the name of Paule Goethals. The designer of the House’s icon, the Brillant, amongst others. “At the end of the 1950s, Paule Goethals came to work at Delvaux and stayed for the rest of her working life. She was very proud to have been a pupil of the renowned Henry Van de Velde, who founded the La Cambre Institute in Brussels and lectured there. She could pull rank, saying, ‘I was a student of Van de Velde’s, it has to be this way.’ In fact, she hadn’t studied fashion, but interior design. But her training was very useful, because how do you design a handbag? You need to have a good appreciation of volumes. Depth, height, width. The ability to think in three dimensions is always crucial. It’s all about centimetres, often millimetres. Not everyone has this sense of volume. Remember that computers didn’t exist yet. Designing nowadays is a completely different story.” Baroness Solange Schwennicke talks about design and laughs as she recalls,
“When I started, the craftsmen all thought that the designers were inspired yet impractical women. My husband didn’t let them work directly with the craftsmen, but rather with the model makers who had to make the first prototypes out of paper or cardboard. There was a rather difficult relationship with the design team, because the craftsmen often turned down ideas. A proposal was often rejected as being too difficult or even completely impossible. It used to drive me mad. As a designer, I changed my own way of working to try and create the design in paper or cardboard and then go to the model maker. In this way, the designers can see the volume for themselves. The bag comes alive. But I’m not pretending that it was easy. Even today, it’s the most difficult stage, transferring the designer’s idea to the craftsmen in the workshop.”
Bestseller We still dream about the Brillant. This 1958 design has remained in the collection and has become the House’s all-time bestseller. “The Brillant has indeed always been in the collection,” says Baroness Schwennicke. “When the fashion was for small bags, we created a small Brillant. For its thirtieth anniversary, in 1988, we added a strap because no-one wanted small handles at the time. Later, we made a miniversion of the Brillant and recently we’ve even made a few maxi-versions. I predicted that this model would become a bestseller. We were still working flat out on it when I felt that we really ought to launch this model to
coincide with the 1958 Brussels World Fair. The time was right. The Brillant was originally planned for launch at the beginning of the ‘60s, but it was already on sale in 1958. I told my husband not to wait any longer as it would be a success. And I proved to be right.” Baroness Solange Schwennicke looks for the model in the Gold Book but only finds it at the start of the ‘60s. When it was fully developed. Such perfectionism is a true Delvaux trait.
Surprises Which were the best times? “Oh, they were all exciting,” declares Baroness Solange Schwennicke. “Because fashion is constantly changing. Because there are always new materials, and you have to learn to work with them. One of my great challenges was learning to work with supple materials. Delvaux is famous for its solid bags, which stand up straight, made from stiff leathers. But fresh ideas blew in from Italy... bags made from soft materials. Bags which weren’t really rigid. This was new for us, and it was a challenge for our people to learn. On top of which, we had to sell the idea to our customers. There were times when customers only wanted rigid bags because they looked more expensive. You know, we may be an old House, but that’s why we haven’t aged. We must always take our customers by surprise. Not shock them, but surprise them. Sadly not everybody adapts well to change. But you still have to encourage them to change.”
YSL Baroness Schwennicke pages further. The forties. The fifties. Did Delvaux have links with haute couture at its height? Not really, no. The world of high fashion wasn’t immediately interested in Belgium. And yet. “I did work with Yves Saint Laurent once. I still have the bag we made for him for his ready-to-wear line, Rive Gauche. He did the design and we were supposed to make it. The problem was that we were too expensive for him. He wanted to make huge margins. I defended our position by saying that we couldn’t reduce our prices because our craftsmen spent hours on it and wanted to deliver perfect creations.”
Delvaux has often been asked to work with other designers, but as Baroness Solange Schwennicke says, “We would rather produce our own exclusive designs.” She opens the second Gold Book. There are all sorts of notes between the pages. “The design team is clearly using this one,” laughs Baroness Schwennicke. “See, there aren’t any individual designer’s names any more, just The Studio.” We ask why Delvaux had never worked with young external designers, something they do today. “We did work with Martin Szekely once. It was a lovely design, but it was no commercial high-flyer. I must admit that I was always tempted by the Antwerp fashion
designers. I was very impressed by Dries Van Noten’s first collection. I knew that he would go far. Martin Margiela has always been innovative and still is. That’s always been an important word for me. Innovative and creative, diametrically opposed to ‘easy’. A word that has no place in my vocabulary. I associate that with herd instinct. While all these years I’ve always tried to do things that no-one else had.” She has always worked hard in the House. She led the creative team in the busy 1980s, but also made trips to France to set up new workshops when the Brussels workshop could no longer keep up with the demands of too many orders. “It wasn’t easy, because in France people lacked our know-how,” explains Baroness Solange Schwennicke. “They were very exciting times, also because of the different designs of that period.” She leafs through the Gold Book again. The 1990s. 2000. The drawings in the Gold Book still have a wonderful precision. There are still model names. Signed, ‘The Studio’. Suddenly Baroness Solange Schwennicke sees that the second Gold Book is almost finished. “We need to start looking urgently. Is there someone in Belgium who can still make this kind of beautiful book?”
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Delvaux, 180 years of continuing innovation
Design: Paul Boudens
The Antwerp fashion Museum (MoMu) is organising a major exhibition which pays tribute to the House Delvaux and its world. Called â€˜180 years of Belgian Luxuryâ€™, the exhibition runs from September 17th this year until February 21st 2010.
Since it was founded in 2002, MoMu has always showcased great fashion stories. This September, it pays tribute to the House Delvaux through an exhibition called ‘180 years of Belgian Luxury’. The story of an exceptional leather goods House totally committed to luxury in the truest sense. How the House has managed to renew itself decade after decade without ever losing sight of its very own values and ethics and, above all, never succumbing to mass-production. And finally, how this propensity has endured through different eras and lights the way into its future.
the Second World War, travel opened up to a far greater number of people, thanks to airlines such as Sabena. So Franz Schwennicke designed the Avia Aires, an ultra-light case with an aluminium frame. Because for the first time, travellers had to carry their own luggage. An occurrence as revolutionary as the emergence of women in the workplace. To allow them to take public transport safely, Delvaux offered handbags with very complex clasps. So difficult to open that, nowadays, the clasps of those which pass into the hands of the House’s craftsmen have often been forced.
A company which, from Charles Delvaux to Franz Schwennicke and his successors, has always remained a family business. A name which includes craftsmen, designers and, of course, customers, all of whom play their part in the story that MoMu intends to recount. From the time when Delvaux’s studios designed huge trunks to accommodate all the clothes that its elite clientele needed to take with them on their transatlantic cruises, where there was an extremely strict dress code. This same era saw the rise of rail travel and the birth of the handbag, so that when the trunks were stored in the baggage car, one could carry what was absolutely necessary. To another time in the story when, after
The MoMu exhibition also speaks of a time when Belgium itself was in the early stages of its journey through history and when the first Belgians were discovering the pleasure of being ruled by royalty, above all, by queens and princesses. Their names soon graced the most beautiful creations of a House which had become an official supplier to the Court. Because in the interim, the House had turned to the manufacture of handbags. MoMu will also tell the very special tale which turned Delvaux from a House whose craftsmen with unique know-how became renowned designers and vice versa. How the House’s creations reflect craftsmanship that is respectful as well as respected. Right up to the
move towards a new form of elegance epitomised by Veronique Branquinho, the House’s new artistic director. The history of the House is expressed through the most notable of its creations, fashion moments of pure emotion, photos from another era, examples of technical innovations such as Toile de Cuir and the recollection of the personalities from all areas who influenced its story and kept faith with it. Up to the creation of its famous ‘D’, a symbol recognised by customers whose high standards have never wavered whatever the perils of the time and who, today, still believe that a House which has devoted itself to excellence for 180 years is worth visiting.
Capri Toile Macaron, Patented woven leather - 200 examples
CLOSE ENCOUNTERS She has her bag with her. She relies on it, she sleeps with it. Itâ€™s more than a possession or a fun gadget. Her whole life is bundled up in her bag. Wallet, mobile phone, mp3 player, photos of her loved ones ... a life to be proud of. She comes and goes with that bag. Theyâ€™re inseparable. And nobody dares to ...
Delvaux Autumn/Winter 2009/10 collection photographer: Lalo Gonzalez photographic assistants: Bettina Genten, Flavien RousĂŠ & Hicham Riad art direction: Frank Schouwaerts styling: Kim Peers make-up artist: Vasko Todorof @ Touch Agency (make-up - Shiseido / Hair - Kerastase Paris) models: Crista Cober & Saskia De Prez location: Contemporary Arts Laboratory Wiels
The essence, according to stefan schรถning
stefan schöning developed his first Folder chair in 2001. A subsequent meeting with Delvaux led to a leather version of Folder. The first prototype of ‘Folder by Delvaux’ was shown during the Interieur 2008 exhibition in Belgium. A unique project which allowed two different worlds to merge seamlessly together.
It’s been a busy time recently for stefan schöning. He was named Designer of the Year by the Interior Foundation and by Belgian magazines Weekend Knack and Weekend Le Vif/ L’Express in 2008, and he has been struck by the attention his work has received. He has appeared frequently in many press reports both in Belgium and abroad. “I’ve been on a rollercoaster ride. I’ve had to design new traffic lights for Flanders in northern Belgium and a new corporate identity for Belgian Railways. A number of my designs apparently strike a chord with the public. But a lot of it is to do with Folder. That project has been a pivotal point in my career.”
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The idea for Folder sat at the back of Schöning’s mind for months, but there was always something more urgent to develop. Then in 2001, he put the project at the top of his TO DO list and knew immediately that it would be a challenge. “For the first time in years I wanted to design something that hadn’t been commissioned by a client,” says Schöning. “It tested me. A way for me to think outside the box again.” He created Folder by using the famous Japanese origami technique. A sophisticated folding technique which most commonly uses paper and which is regarded as an art form in Japan. “Folder is my interpretation of what a chair essentially is,” he says convincingly. “It’s also my pet project, because it was the design with which I could express myself 100%.” Schöning made several models in paper and also five actual examples in polypropylene (a plastic which can be folded when cold) with which he attracted the attention of a manufacturer at the 100% Design exhibition in London, one of the design industry’s top shows at the time. “The reactions were positive. Someone wanted to order fifty on the spot. Unfortunately production wasn’t up to speed at the time. I wasn’t ready for that. But the attention was nice.”
However, the attention didn’t diminish. The New York Cooper-Hewitt Design Museum picked up on Folder, as did the leading cult fashion store Colette in Paris, and exhibited the chair. Meanwhile stefan schöning had come to Delvaux’s notice. “When I turned up with a few paper models of Folder, I have to say I was a little taken aback,” says Stefan. “The House was convinced that Folder deserved a Delvaux version. And furthermore it was an unrivalled opportunity to broaden the Delvaux product range. Personally, I was proud that a leather version of Folder was going to be made by a House like Delvaux. They had opted for my own project and not for a commission which had been made by another manufacturer.” Schöning already knew the House Delvaux. He values its tradition and craftsmanship. “I’ve learned a lot about the passion of the craftsmen here over the past few months. Delvaux is unique, in Belgium and beyond. And to be honest, the enthusiasm for traditional values interests me. I’ve always been inspired by traditional products which can be translated in a contemporary fashion.”
‘Folder by Delvaux’ will be made in bullock leather. This exclusive leather with its very strong grain and thickness will fold seamlessly, without stitching or joints. The intention is that the leather will be hand cut and glued to the polypropylene base of the design. After this the chair will be folded. The first ‘Folder by Delvaux’ will be launched in Autumn 2009. Naturally as a limited edition to be sold in selected Delvaux shops and specialist retailers. The design will be available in a range of colours from brown and beige to black. Black, coffee, taupe, light grey and platinum, to be exact. “This isn’t the first time I’ve worked with leather,” says Stefan. “But it has also been a quest to find the ideal type of leather to produce a beautiful result. We should give customers what they have a right to expect, shouldn’t we?”
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Brillant Black Edition
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— Black Edition
— Le Rêve
— La Création
— La Singularité
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— La Belgitude
— Le Savoir Faire
— La Tradition
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Studio Delvaux is the House Delvaux’s Head of Studio. Every one of and the reactions were amazing. We these will be made by hand in Delvaux’s go further down the same road by Delvaux’s creative hub. This is workshop in a limited edition of nine launching Natalia Brilli’s creation in where people gather together pieces. Each one is a gem. Figuratively Paris during Fashion Week in October. and in one case literally, because one of The Brillant’s surreal version, ‘Ceci and pool their collective talent the designs is finished with fine pearls. n’est pas un Delvaux’, was on display at and experience to fashion ideas the opening of the Magritte Museum in Brussels, an unmissable event on the for new leather creations. This A creative Belgian arts calendar.” contemporary think tank pushes mission boundaries and thinks outside Genetic According to Didier Vervaeren, ‘The the box. Brillant’s Different Moods’ are, “A innovation
Pushing the boundaries The displays in the windows of leading boutiques Louis in Antwerp and Natan XIII in Brussels are full of astounding handbags. Each one a special edition, new versions of the Brillant, the handbag Delvaux launched to coincide with the 1958 Brussels World Fair. The ‘new version’ Brillant is clearly larger than the original. But the design is also different. More playful. We see nine different creations each based on this iconic design, all of which hint at the House’s expertise, the year of the World Fair, typical Belgian surrealism, in short at the essence of being Belgian. The names speak for themselves: ‘L’Humour’ (This is not a Delvaux...) is the name of a bag which exudes typical Belgian humour. The leather in ‘La Tradition’ has been treated to look like a real Chesterfield sofa, the epitome of tradition. Each of the nine designs forms part of ‘Les Humeurs du Brillant’ (The Brillant’s Different Moods), a concept dreamt up by Didier Vervaeren, 50 | Autumn/Winter 2009/10
perfect match for Studio Delvaux’s mission. I see this creative think tank as a kind of laboratory for all sorts of ideas. It’s also a meeting place for people who want to think very constructively about working in a material like leather. The famous Belgian model Hannelore Knuts was Studio Delvaux’s first guest. Her three handbags were a great exercise. stefan schöning and his Folder (p. 40), as well as the work of Guy Leclef (p. 10), fit this philosophy equally well. Our next guest is Natalia Brilli, whom I taught during her degree at La Cambre and who has since worked in Paris for Rochas, amongst others. The Studio’s projects must certainly not be limited to handbags. Leather offers so much creative scope.” The nine designs in ‘The Brillant’s Different Moods’ series are shortly going on tour. That is also the idea behind other Studio Delvaux projects. “The Studio is a gateway to the avantgarde on an international level,” says the Head of Studio. “We launched Hannelore Knuts’ three designs in Colette, the cult fashion store in Paris,
In addition to ‘The Brillant’s Different Moods’, in the last few months, Delvaux has launched the exceptional Brillant Black Edition. This iconic model came as a high luxury maxi-version and was a great success in several Delvaux shops. “There are endless possibilities for Studio Delvaux,” adds Didier. “All sorts of designers can swap their ideas with us and so come up with groundbreaking creations. And isn’t that the House’s philosophy? Innovation is in Delvaux’s genes.” Did you know? In the 1950s, the late Franz Schwennicke took over a business in central Brussels. He was one of the first people to present his own collections there and to use craftsmen in the shop’s windows to attract the attention of passers-by to the enormous amount of creativity on display. The name of the business was no coincidence: Studio Delvaux.
Natalia Brilli at Studio Delvaux Natalia Brilli is the next designer to be invited to contribute to the Studio Delvaux project. Natalia was born in Liège in Belgium and studied at the prestigious La Cambre art school in Brussels. After three years at Rochas as head accessories designer with Olivier Theyskens, Natalia decided to start her own brand in 2005. She designs artful sculptural jewellery, other accessories and objects. Natalia’s collections are known for their astounding use of precious leathers. Her first collection won her the prestigious ANDAM award in 2006.
Hannelore Alligator Dos Naturel
Hannelore Toile Sauvage Golden
“The House Delvaux invited me to create a design for Studio Delvaux because of the technique I’ve developed for my earlier collections. It is a very interesting experience working with Delvaux’s Head of Studio who is also a La Cambre graduate. My design will celebrate the 180th anniversary of the House and makes reference to the first Delvaux design, the travel trunk,” says Natalia. It will be available from October in Delvaux’s flagship stores.
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The Men’s Line —1829—
By Bruno Pieters
The venture between the Antwerp designer and the House continues and the 1829 Men’s Line by Bruno Pieters now includes new accessories. It’s already been two years since Bruno Pieters, graduate of the Antwerp Academy and the creator of the Hugo range for Hugo Boss, presented his first creations for the 1829 Men’s Line. These comprised a Newspaper Bag, a Pochette Plate, the Baudrier Grand Modèle and Petit Modèle, as well as the Serviette Souple. Since then, the House Delvaux has continued to enlarge the 1829 range. As for the designer, he remains fascinated by this other aspect of luxury, totally focused on the quality and longevity of the products. This is why, in order to develop the 1829 Men’s Line in new directions, he wanted to make it accessible to as many men as possible, by including new, practical accessories which are reasonably priced. These creations, with their pure lines and multifunctional spirit, are a pleasure to take everywhere. Discover a computer bag called the President Bag, a weekend bag with its toilet bag, both in a fabric exuding the spirit of leatherwork, and a belt which highlights the Line’s extremely contemporary appeal. All of these new creations come from the meeting between modernity and tradition, and each displays the eloquent minimalism that is the Antwerp designer’s signature. Creations designed to last and, above all, a very personal vision of the Delvaux world.
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— Bespoke luxury — is now called №12 by Scabal & Delvaux
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The Belgian luxury Houses Scabal and Delvaux have just come to an agreement. They have created a new collection for men called №12 by Scabal & Delvaux. This will be far more than just another luxury collection, but bespoke creations for extremely fastidious customers. An international premiere. Luxury, craftsmanship, authenticity and a high degree of shared thinking. Scabal and Delvaux have many values in common. Moreover, both luxury Houses have their headquarters in Brussels. For the last seventy years, the Belgian luxury House Scabal has been creating quality fabrics for menswear, to which it has added fashion collections of its own and even ventured into the bespoke market. An equally Belgian enterprise, Delvaux is renowned not only for being the oldest leather accessories House in the entire world - Delvaux dates back to 1829 but today the House still makes its timeless luxury leather goods in limited series. Why not try and set up a project where ‘handmade’ is the keyword? Bespoke for men who want just that little bit extra.
really want? Most of all, how high are their expectations? Think high quality fabrics and leathers. Think perfect finishing of bespoke items that can be personalised further, with initials for example, but also made to the precise desires of the customer. Which is how unique pieces are created to give a lifetime of pleasure.
That is exactly what happened. A select few craftsmen from both Houses sat down together and exchanged ideas about luxury leather goods. What do men who already have everything
The launch of N°12 by Scabal & Delvaux is no chance occurrence. There is great demand for beautiful bespoke and highly personalised goods. The results will be on display in the Delvaux shop in Antwerp and in Scabal’s Savile Row store in London. The N°12 by Scabal & Delvaux collection will also be presented at several VIP events in the Arsenal, Delvaux’s heartquarters in Brussels.
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The Arsenal Delvauxâ€™s beating heart The Arsenal, the heartquarters* of the House Delvaux, is a building with almost as much history as the House itself, and dates back to the turn of the 20th century. As the House celebrates its 180th anniversary, this historic building is getting a makeover that will revive it and bring it into the 21st century without losing any of the charm and purity of its industrial roots.
* its centre of excellence and creation, as well as its production, supply chain and quality control hub
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Its original function was as a repair depot for both motorised and horse-drawn military vehicles. In the 1980s, the SDRB (Société de Développement pour la Région de Bruxelles-Capitale – the Brussels Regional Development Agency) revitalised the building by redeveloping it for semiindustrial use by small and medium sized businesses which were of a non-polluting and/or craft nature. Delvaux moved from Rhode-Saint-Genèse into the Arsenal in April 1994. The architectural practice entrusted with this sensitive makeover is the very discreet and exclusive Anversa partnership from Antwerp.
Purity of purpose The Arsenal’s colour schemes and much of its existing design date from the conversion of the late 1980s. The concept behind the makeover is to allow the building to speak for itself and get back to the purity and honesty of the original industrial design ethic. Some of the makeover’s inspiration came from old black and white photos of industrial buildings, the rest came from the House itself. Delvaux works with pure, noble materials - leather, brass, silver, gold, silk - and the building has its own share of pure materials such as cast iron, brick, wood and stone. It was decided to make the most of this combination and to focus on Delvaux’s people and products, starting in the workshop area, comprising 900 m2 of the Arsenal’s total area of 4,800 m2.
Enhancing the environment
Page 55 - Interior of the Arsenal showing details of the cast iron work and its new off-black finish. Page 56 - Exterior view of Delvaux’s heartquarters facing Boulevard Louis Schmidt in Brussels.
To ensure the success of the makeover, a working group was set up which included the architects, management and Delvaux’s craftsmen themselves. Delvaux’s 42 craftsmen are a real family, many of them have been with the House for years. The idea was to give their working environment a lighter, more comfortable feel and also make it easier to operate in. Not much has changed in terms of actual
structure, but rather the way in which it is organised and used. The House’s 18,000 m2 of calf leathers and 1,600 m2 of lamb, goat and exotic leathers, which were previously hidden away in a store room, have been given far more prominence in the new layout. These leathers, made exclusively to order for Delvaux by Europe’s leading tanners, are now housed on open racks behind a glass wall, and their wonderful colours and textures are clearly visible from the workshop.
Flowing logic The new layout is based on the workflow involved in making a bag, so it starts with the new cutting machine which is placed closest to the leather stocks, where each leather is checked for flaws and cut to the desired pattern. It is then split to the correct thickness. From there, the leathers pass successively on to one of the 5 teams of 3 craftsmen involved in making up a Delvaux article. They assemble and stitch it. However, the team of craftsmen who work on the exotic leathers carry out the entire process from start to finish. The former layout had groups of craftsmen gathered round one large worktable, a little like a family sitting down to dinner. However, this was not only a rather inefficient use of space, it was also difficult for the craftsmen to get to the materials they needed. The teams which used
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to cluster round one large table are now arranged in rows of tables across the workspace so that they can still communicate with one another, but are more focused on their work. The new layout gives the craftsmen their own worktables with storage space for their tools and materials. Many of these tools are made by the craftsmen themselves to tackle the very specific operations they perform. The teams work on sets of 20 items at a time and each set requires about two weeks’ work. The average amount of time that Delvaux craftsmen spend on creating each handbag is 7 hours and approximately 200 items leave the workshop each month. The other innovation that the new layout has introduced is that the After-Sales and Exclusive Services departments have now been integrated into the workshop. This makes it much easier for them to react to any special orders, which they create in collaboration with a prototype maker and sometimes a member of the exotic leathers team. This tailor-made service allows people or companies to commission special items or to personalise existing Delvaux items. The makeover also extends to the first floor where the new Research Department offices are now situated. This department is where new Delvaux
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projects take shape in the form of 3-D mock-ups and prototypes, where innovative solutions are suggested, and where designs are finalised for production once any technical and aesthetic challenges have been met. These offices are now bathed in natural light from the glass roof and have an open and airy feeling which has really boosted team spirit. Throughout the building, all the cast iron work which had been painted a pale green in the nineties, has now been repainted in a soft, off-black colour. It looks almost the same as the cast iron itself did originally, but has a slightly smoother, more luxurious feel to it.
A stylish, working building The Arsenal is not only the heartquarters of Delvaux, but also its main production base, albeit more of a workshop than a factory. This means that the makeover has had to balance two aspects which could have come into quite sharp conflict. The building has to look stylish and modern and reflect Delvaux’s commitment to high-class craftsmanship, luxury and fashion, while being a real working building. The makeover has to be durable and practical yet, at the same time, any future changes that are required must be affordable.
The extra space that the makeover has created on the workshop floor means that not only will workshop tours be easier to conduct during working hours, but also that the workshop will now be able to be used for VIP events for valued customers.
The architects were chosen because they were accustomed to working with master craftsmen and noble materials, so the House was confident that they would be able to find the right balance between comfort and luxury. The team effort involved in the makeover created a philosophy which has led to a design which adds value to the Delvaux brand by reflecting its core values. In addition, the working environment is more efficient, yet has a classic, timeless feel to it which makes it a more inviting environment for both Delvaux staff and visitors.
Delvaux, glory in every stitch It’s not every day that one gets the opportunity to visit the beating heart of this venerable Leatherworks and to meet the craftsmen face to face.
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10h00 In the entrance hall of the Arsenal, the guide welcomes a select group of loyal customers. They are about to go behind the scenes at the House and see the work of the craftsmen in close-up. To their left, the showroom which displays the season’s new models. A mouth-watering display.
10h05 We take our first steps past a collection of old trunks, a reminder that Charles Delvaux was, originally, a trunk maker. Then a brief look at the history of the House and its successive owners. In fact, not such a brief look. It takes a lot more than a few seconds to review the history of a House as old as this. From Charles Delvaux who founded the House in 1829, and whose House was the first to patent a model, the Edison, to Franz Schwennicke who bought the House in 1933. Never
forgetting Solange Schwennicke who took over after her husband passed away and their son François, to whom she passed the reins at the end of the 1980s. On becoming Executive Chairman in 2007, he was joined by CEO, Christian Salez, with whom he jointly manages the company. How, spurred on by this success, the range has developed to offer travel bags, suitcases and, of course, handbags. To sum up, 180 years of fine leather luxury goods have seen many rare creations, and that story continues.
10h17 The House’s Studio. Under the leadership of Veronique Branquinho, graduates of famous fashion academies work alongside leather engineers, graphic designers and designers. It is here that they create the links between tradition and modernity, where new collaborations between the House’s designers and external designers
see the light of day, combining current fashion with the traditions of Delvaux, and of course, the dedication to quality and bespoke design so dear to the House.
10h25 We arrive in the Research Department. This is where 3-D mock-ups and prototypes, based on designs from the Studio, are produced. It is more than just giving shape to these new creations. Each new model represents a real technical and aesthetic challenge. Thanks to its skill and know-how, the Research Department blazes a trail for the craftsmen who will soon be busy producing the finished articles within these walls.
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10h35 In one office we see samples of Toile de Cuir. A woven material, invented and developed by Charles Schambourg in the 1960s. Initially it was used for interior decoration. Before Solange Schwennicke first used it for leather goods twenty years later and made it a House exclusive.
10h40 On to the House’s leather stocks. Shelves six or seven metres high and on them, leathers, nothing but leathers. Most come from French tanneries and a few from Italian tanneries. The fine grain of these European leathers, their conformity, has been checked numerous times by the House’s specialist, all the way from the tannery until they become part of the stock. There is calf, the leather from which 70% of Delvaux’s creations are made, but also lamb, bullock, stag and 64 | Autumn/Winter 2009/10
even goat. There are also some leathers created for privileged customers for whom bespoke articles are made.
10h55 Then on to the cutting studio. The craftsman shows how, before cutting the pieces needed for a bag, 64 in the case of Delvaux’s flagship Brillant model, he looks for any faults in the leather. But what faults could there be? Even his trained eyes strain to find them. This is not just an aesthetic concern. These imperfections may age more quickly than the rest of the leather.
10h58 At one end of the studio, there is a brand new, fully computerised machine. It projects the shapes of the pieces onto the leather by laser beam, before cutting
them with unerring precision. Not long ago it was necessary to create a metal die for each piece that had to be cut. Some of these are still used today for cutting the pieces of certain models such as the Brillant.
11h05 A detour past ‘parage’, a shaving technique which thins the edges of the leather and makes it easier to assemble the pieces during the following stage. The visitors arrive to view this stage, where the main pieces of the bag are stitched together. This assembly is always carried out by two or three craftsmen who have mastered the process from A to Z. Most stitching is still finished by hand as a machine cannot guarantee the total precision required. Most amazing of all, those models like the Brillant which have a piping edge, a band of leather folded over to show a rounded profile, are actually made inside out. An
extremely delicate operation because each craftsman engaged upon it has to show infinite patience as well as exceptional dexterity. Otherwise eight hours of painstaking craftsmanship can be entirely lost.
11h15 It takes a few minutes to see the accessories which finish off a bag. There are 706,794 in stock covering 776 different models.
11h17 The exotic leathers department. Alligator, ostrich, lizard, cobra, ray and even salmon. Each of these exceptional skins gets royal treatment. Cleaning and cutting are performed by hand to give them the attention they deserve. The craftsmen have to master many technical challenges
which reveal the depths of their prowess. Such as the Hannelore bag, the creation of Hannelore Knuts, Studio Delvaux’s first guest designer. For this she wanted to use alligator back, as opposed to the belly which is usually used. This model required the invention of a unique process which allowed this part of the skin, which has extremely rigid scales, to be sewn. A first in the leatherworking world.
11h30 The visit ends at the Delvaux Museum, a veritable treasure trove of history, home to over 1,000 handbags from the 1930s to the present day. And as witness to this extraordinary long-lived excellence, there are the two Gold Books, Delvaux’s archive of past designs. Between them they contain close to 3,000 Delvaux creations, scrupulously listed with their name and the design. A heritage which gives the House its unique creative impetus.
Then it’s off to the After-Sales service. Think of it like a real beauty salon for bags where House Delvaux creations, including some of the very oldest, come for a small repair or a course of rejuvenation. This department works hand in hand with Exclusive Services to create all the orders the House receives for bespoke items.
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Throughout its 180 year history, the House Delvaux has not only remained true to its values and always endeavoured to conduct its business in an ethical manner, it has also been careful to manage its business in a manner which is nowadays called sustainable development. These values of quality and durability, the desire to make a positive impact and to show respect for society in general have given the House its unique character and standing. The active involvement of the family shareholders has given the House its distinctive long term approach and vision. It has also led to a very individual culture based on the fact that over and above its purely economic function, the company considers that it has other duties towards its different stakeholders.
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Sustainable development In a society which has moved increasingly towards superficiality, Delvaux has stood firm. The House knows that for some of its customers, owning a Delvaux handbag is the realisation of a long-held ambition, while for others the pleasure comes simply from owning a beautifully made handbag that they know will last for generations. This philosophy made the House one of the earliest proponents of what today is known as sustainable development. Not only does Delvaux invest in the skills of highly qualified designers and craftsmen, it also invests in materials of the utmost quality. This is the first stage in creating products which often last for decades. In addition to its investment in the training of its own craftsmen, the House has also developed a unique After-Sales service as well as a whole range of Exclusive Services. These departments are there to serve existing customers and to help them to get the best possible use from their Delvaux bags. Whether it be a minor running repair, a refurbishment of the leather finish or fittings, or even a modification to tailor the bag to the customer’s precise needs, the House can enhance and extend the life of even the hardest used handbag. In 2008 alone, more than 8,000 bags were sent to the Arsenal for their expert attention, the oldest of which dated from the 1940s. The average age of these bags is between 3 and 20 years old. Refurbishing a bag takes around 2
hours, while a repair can take 3 hours or more. Bags which are made from exotic leathers require more time and attention. The House’s investment in raw materials includes leather stocks, some of which date back over 30 years, so that a perfect match to the original leather can be found even for handbags of that age and give them a new life.
Respect for its clientele Delvaux has always valued its relationship with its customers. That is why the House has always believed that the relationship between a product’s quality and price should not exceed a certain ratio. Nowadays, this is often half that which is common in the sector. This allows the House to continue to offer products made from genuine materials of the finest quality by highly skilled craftsmen who ensure the integrity of each product. This price/quality ratio is therefore undoubtedly one of the most competitive in the sector, despite the fact that in absolute terms the House’s prices may appear to be high. As has often been said within the House, Delvaux always recognises the difference between know-how and making something known, based on the fact that its customers are familiar with the collections, the feel and the durability which go into making a true top of the range product. In the current difficult economic climate, the House is particularly aware of the financial constraints that many
of its customers face. Which is why it is on a constant quest for the means and new ways which will permit the House to maintain the quality of its products based on the know-how of its own craftsmen, and continue to offer ranges at more affordable prices.
Respect for its personnel Delvaux is essentially quite a small, compact business employing around 200 people. Despite its worldwide presence and reputation, it is still a family business with a real ‘family’ spirit. When people join the House, most tend to stay for a very long time. No matter what their job or level of responsibility, they know that their aspirations, and any possible concerns, will be listened to. Delvaux has always offered its employees the training they need to develop and to nurture their talents. In the same way, new recruits are placed under the supervision of a mentor who helps them to develop the skills they need. There is a sales training programme which starts with a theoretical element and which is then carried through into the shops. In this way, the House ensures that its staff have the training required not only to do their jobs, but also to achieve job satisfaction and understand their role in the working of the company and its objectives. Delvaux management is highly aware of the House’s corporate social responsibility and is also driven by concerns about sustainability and delvaux.com | 67
“Time rejects anything made in haste” quality. That is why during the 1990s, the House refrained from following the standardisation that swept through the luxury sector. It is this same wish to preserve the House’s know-how at all costs which will lead the House to develop its own niche in the luxury sector and to promote its sustainability. In the next few years, in addition to its two production bases in Belgium and France, the House plans to open its own new workshops in countries where it can find a sophisticated and talented workforce and where it will invest in training its future craftsmen. The aim of this approach is to guarantee the continuity of its own know-how within the company in the face of the demise of traditional craft training channels in the West, while continuing to be able to offer remarkable products at prices which satisfy the greatest possible number of customers. This pursuit of quality is a defining Delvaux characteristic. And although the House will continue to maintain exclusive partnerships with workshops in Belgium, as well as seeking other potential production bases, the Brussels Heartquarters, the Arsenal, will always remain the hub of the production and supply chain. This true model of excellence is based on the creative unit within which products are designed and then developed, and where the most sophisticated and bespoke products will be produced as well as all the After-Sales and Exclusive Services.
68 | Autumn/Winter 2009/10
Respect for its partners and for the environment Delvaux’s relationships with its partners and suppliers have always been based on complete transparency and a very open collaboration. The respect that this style of working requires to be successful is one of the reasons that the House has managed to maintain long and fruitful partnerships over the years. The House Delvaux confers great importance on the loyalty of its suppliers who share the same passion for excellence. It is this reciprocal need which is and will remain at the root of many advances in the leather working sector. The continuity symbolised by the House motto ‘Time rejects anything made in haste’ is without doubt one of the essential components of the House’s DNA. Most of its creations are designed with a notion of timelessness, even if in parallel to this approach, the House has always enjoyed delivering surprises through its attitude to materials, designs or unexpected colours, because some tension is always necessary for life to continue to evolve. Delvaux has always been extremely demanding in its choice of suppliers, notably its tanners. Only retaining those who share its values and its concern for the environment. These new environmental preoccupations have caused the House to re-examine its energy consumption policy with the aim of reducing its carbon footprint to the greatest possible extent. It is this
approach, based on the long term, and this concern for sustainability which led the House to use high quality and long lasting materials for its renovations to the Arsenal and in its shops, working all the while on reducing energy consumption. The House Delvaux places great importance on its role in a social context. Over the years, the House has lent its support to a wide range of charities. Many initiatives such as the Wiels contemporary arts laboratory have also benefited from the House’s patronage. In addition, the directors take an active role in the community by lending their skills and talents to cultural, professional and economic organisations. And is not the celebration of our 180th anniversary proof that Delvaux can effectively reconcile the interests of customers, shareholders, personnel and the environment?
â€” 1829 Menâ€™s Line, designed by Bruno Pieters Cabas, Vegetable tanned calf - 250 examples
where tradition rises over 80 storeys high Hong Kong is a throbbing, bustling cosmopolitan centre. Itâ€™s one of the most densely populated areas on earth with a population of 7 million people but a land area of only 1,108 km2. Hong Kong has a total of 6,439 skyscrapers, more than any other city. This cultural cauldron where East meets West has always been a trading port. Ceded to the British after the First Opium War in 1841, it became a free port and
a major trading centre for the British Empire. The territoryâ€™s prosperity dates from that time. As a result of all this trading activity, the rich tai pans who controlled the great trading houses such as Swire, Noble and Jardine Matheson were able to indulge their taste for luxury goods, something for which Hong Kong is today famous.
Modernity with a twist
The luxury of noble ingredients
Today, Hong Kong has the world’s 6th largest Stock Exchange. It is one of the world’s leading financial capitals and it is a major business and cultural hub. Hong Kong’s unique combination of Chinese and Western culture has given it a dynamic and exciting mixture of the modern and the traditional. For example, concepts like Feng Shui are taken very seriously and Feng Shui consultants are often hired to ensure that expensive construction projects are designed in the most auspicious way possible. Despite the number of skyscrapers, few have any floors containing the number 4, because of its similarity with the word ‘die’ in Chinese. This juxtaposition of cultural influences is reflected in Hong Kong’s music, cinema and cuisine. Respect for tradition is balanced with a quest for modernity and an innate appreciation of discreet luxury. Just as Delvaux’s designs bring a contemporary twist to traditional craft skills.
Margaret Xu Yuan grows her own organic food in Yuen Long and is the unofficial queen of organic dining. She cooks her signature contemporary Chinese roasts in wood fire and charcoal ovens which she has created from Italian terracotta plant pots. Her Yin Yang restaurant is full every night with an enthusiastic blend of locals and visitors. “Compared to other international cuisines, Chinese is becoming outdated,” she says. “Too much MSG, complicated cooking methods, and flavours and tastes which are just too strong. People live differently now and they want to eat differently. I use my own organic vegetables because it is vital that my customers enjoy the real taste of the vegetables rather than all the sauces and spices.” Margaret likes to make everything herself, from the sauces which accompany each course, to the plum wine which is stored in large vats around the restaurant. Like the House Delvaux, Margaret Xu Yuan selects the ingredients of her creations painstakingly to ensure a result that cannot be reproduced in any other way.
A new generation creating new traditions Nowhere is this better seen than in the new generation of young chefs such as Margaret Xu Yuan and Jacky Yu. Like many of their contemporaries, they started by running ‘private dining’ restaurants. These uniquely Hong Kong restaurants are located in private homes and don’t advertise their presence. The feeling is more of being a privileged guest than a customer and only a select inner circle know of their existence. Margaret Xu Yuan and Jacky Yu have both based their cuisine on traditional Chinese cooking, but each has their own interpretation.
72 | Autumn/Winter 2009/10
Food as art Jacky Yu’s culinary journey started as an exploration of tastes based on Chinese cuisine, allied with a desire to create a unique East meets East fusion of Asian flavours. He established his Xi Yan Culinary Art private dining restaurant in 2000. His cuisine is fundamentally Chinese, but his eclectic combinations have created a new and exciting approach to food. Not only in its tastes and flavours, but also in his artistic and aesthetic approach to its presentation. It is no wonder that Jacky has been nicknamed Hong Kong’s Jamie Oliver, with three bestselling cookbooks, his ‘Gourmet Power Zoom’ TV series which has so far run to 24 editions, as well as numerous appearances on talk shows. His Xi Yan private dining restaurant attracts the rich and famous, and celebrities
and connoisseurs from around the world. Jacky Yu’s aesthetic approach to his food ensures that, like a Delvaux handbag, even the smallest detail oozes perfection.
A seamless meeting of East and West With its meeting of two cultures and a taste for luxury, Hong Kong is a natural destination for a new Delvaux venture. The same appreciation of craftsmanship, authenticity and discreet exclusivity that attracts Hong Kong’s elite to chefs such as Margaret Xu Yuan and Jacky Yu make them natural customers for the truly luxurious Belgian brand. Delvaux shares some surprising characteristics with this most vibrant of territories. Like Hong Kong, the House embraces modernity and leading edge design without losing its respect for tradition. Like Hong Kong, Belgium is a small country which has long played host to a diverse mixture of cultures and which has an enduring tradition of openness. In fact, the House Delvaux and Hong Kong complement one another perfectly. Their individual blend of cultures has created an enduring yet ever-changing appreciation of veritable luxury. This is why Delvaux is venturing into Hong Kong. The move represents a strategic foothold in the Far East for the House which will be followed by more, and is a joint venture with one of Hong Kong’s leading luxury brand specialists, the HCL Group. From Autumn 2009, Hong Kongers will, for the first time, be able to experience Delvaux luxury for themselves in certain select stores. And from Spring 2010, the first dedicated Delvaux shop will open in the Territory and with it, an exciting new era for the House.
Top left: Margaret Xu Yuan in her kitchen wearing a Delvaux Vintage cap, and with a red Delvaux Wishes envelope in her pocket. Top middle: Jacky Yu at work in his kitchen. Top right and middle left: Jacky Yu shopping for ingredients. Middle centre: Fresh produce in one of Hong Kongâ€™s famous wet markets. Middle right: Margaret Xu Yuan in front of her restaurant, carrying a Delvaux Milano bag in black Toile de Cuir. Bottom left: Master of Wine, Debra Meiburg in her cellar with a Delvaux Taxi bag in Toile vanille with red leather. Bottom centre: Jacky Yu at work in his kitchen.
WHERE TO FIND DELVAUX BELGIUM Antwerpen Komedieplaats 17 2000 Antwerpen +32 3 232 02 47 firstname.lastname@example.org Brugge Breidelstraat 2 8000 Brugge +32 50 49 01 31 email@example.com Brussels Blvd de Waterloolaan 27 1000 Bruxelles / Brussel +32 2 513 05 02 firstname.lastname@example.org
Liège Michel II Passage Lemonnier 44 4000 Liège +32 4 221 38 40 email@example.com Namur Rue Saint Loup 4 5000 Namur +32 81 22 05 58 firstname.lastname@example.org Oostende Adolf Buylstraat 23-25 8400 Oostende +32 59 70 12 98 email@example.com
Galerie de la Reine/ Koninginnegalerij 31 1000 Bruxelles / Brussel +32 2 512 71 98 firstname.lastname@example.org
Sint-Niklaas Timmermans Stationsstraat 90-96 9100 Sint-Niklaas +32 3 780 79 40 email@example.com
Knokke-Het-Zoute Kustlaan 148 8300 Knokke-Het-Zoute +32 50 62 45 13 firstname.lastname@example.org
Waterloo Chaussée de Bruxelles 167 1410 Waterloo +32 2 354 28 67 email@example.com
Selected exclusive Collections
Hasselt Quentin Kapelstraat 29 3500 Hasselt +32 11 22 22 41 firstname.lastname@example.org Kortrijk Grote Markt 37 8500 Kortrijk +32 56 22 21 96 email@example.com Leuven Bondgenotenlaan 15 3000 Leuven +32 16 22 05 65 firstname.lastname@example.org 74 | Autumn/Winter 2009/10
Antwerpen Louis Lombardenstraat 2 2000 Antwerpen +32 3 232 98 72 Brussels Natan XIII Rue Antoine Dansaertstraat 101 1000 Bruxelles/Brussel +32 2 514 15 17 Gent Maroquni Koophandelsplein 1 9000 Gent +32 9 225 15 80 email@example.com
Zaventem Sky-shops Brussels National Airport Terminal B 1930 Zaventem +32 2 715 10 20 firstname.lastname@example.org
Dedicated Jewellery stocklists Aalst Zwitserland Juwelier Molenstraat 3 9300 Aalst +32 53 77 02 61 www.juwelier-zwitserland.com De Wolf Juwelen Grote Markt 16-17 9300 Aalst +32 53 21 54 39 www.dewolf-juwelen.be Brussels Georges Joailliers Parvis St-Pierre / Sint-Pietersvoorplein 14 1180 Bruxelles / Brussel +32 2 218 11 93 email@example.com Tollet Joailliers Woluwé Shopping Center 1200 Bruxelles / Brussel +32 2 762 35 47 www.tollet.com Tollet Joailliers Rue des Fripiers / Kleerkopersstraat 36 1000 Bruxelles / Brussel +32 2 218 11 93 www.tollet.com
Gent Heursel 1745 Langermunt 2 3000 Gent +32 9 264 29 29 www.heursel.be Hasselt Franssen Juwelier Demerstraat 51/53 3500 Hasselt +32 11 22 42 58 www.franssenjuweliers.be Leuven Georges Joailliers Maarschalk Fochplein 4 3000 Leuven +32 16 22 28 16 firstname.lastname@example.org Louvain-La-Neuve Georges Joailliers Shopping de l’Esplanade 1348 Louvain-La-Neuve +32 10 45 47 69 email@example.com Mouscron Claerhout Joailliers Grand Place 26 7700 Mouscron +32 56 33 14 68 www.bijouterie-mouscron.com Oudenaarde Roelens Goudsmederij Broodstraat 23 9700 Oudenaarde +32 55 31 42 78 www.juwelierroelens.be Verviers Bijouterie Langohr-Mileur Galerie des 2 places, Place Verte 12 4800 Verviers +32 87 33 55 30 Waregem Casteur Juweliers Stationstraat 24 8790 Waregem +32 56 60 19 51 www.juwelierscasteur.be
France Cannes Rue Henri Ruhl 1, face au 52 Croisette 06400 Cannes +33 6 60 60 90 90 firstname.lastname@example.org Paris Colette Rue Saint Honoré 213 75001 Paris +33 1 55 35 33 90 email@example.com
GREAT BRITAIN London Scabal Flagship Store 12 Savile Row W1S 3PQ London +44-20-77 34 89 63 firstname.lastname@example.org
Japan Tokyo Beams House – Marunouchi Bldg. 1F, 2-4-1, Marunouchi, Chuo-Ku, 100-6301 Tokyo +81 3 5220 8686 Takashimaya – 2-4-1, Nihonbashi, Chuo-Ku, 103-8265 Tokyo +81 3 3211 4111
International Gallery Beams B1F, 3-25-15, Jingumae, Shibuya-Ku, 150-0001 Tokyo +81 3 3470 3925 United Arrows – 2-31-12, Jingumae, Shibuya-Ku 150-0001 Tokyo +81 3 3479 8115 Osaka Wako Osaka – Hotel Nikko 1F, 1-3-3 Nishi-Shinsaibashi, Chuo-Ku, 542-0086 Osaka +81 6 6245 0666 Minami Goto – Hotel New Otani 1F, 1-4-1, Shiromi, Chuo-Ku, 540-001 Osaka +81 6 6949 0750 Fukuoka Beams South – 1-14-10, Daimyou, Chuo-Ku, 810-0041 Fukuoka +81 9 2724 8865
Russia Moscow Winzavod – Building 1, Street 6 4th Syromyatnicheskii per. 105120 Moscow +7 49 52 23 41 11
Mitsukoshi – 1-4-1, Nihonbashi-Muromachi, Chuo-Ku, 103-8001 Tokyo +81 3 3247 8430 Wako – 4-5-11, Ginza, Chuo-Ku, 104-0061 Tokyo +81 3 3562 2111 Isetan – 3-14-1, Shinjuku, Shinjuku-Ku, 160-0022 Tokyo +81 3 3225 2563
E-SHOP Find a selection of our bags at www.delvaux-eshop.com
delvaux.com | 75
delvaux.com Newspaper Bag, 1829 Men’s Line, designed by Bruno Pieters – Cabas, Vegetable tanned calf – 250 examples