LaContrie, a label of custom-made leather bags and accessories, was founded by the Parisian Edwina de Charette de la Contrie. Her background provided indirect preparation for her love of maroquinerie (the making of leather goods): her family worked in the luxury business, her mother wore tailor-made clothes, and she grew up around beautiful old family furniture that trained her to discern fine materials. Though she has an intuitive affinity with her métier, she used to work in another field altogether — as a TV producer for “Paris Dernière,” a French show about Parisian night life. Her initiation into leather craftsmanship happened quite unwittingly. “It started when I made my own bag,” she says. “I couldn’t find the service or the design. All the craftsmen I met were old-fashioned. … They made things with whatever leather they had in stock. They showed me stuff I didn’t like. So I went to a trade show in search of new material — and realized I loved it.” She met one craftsman with incredible technical prowess; she describes him as her “coup de foudre professionel” (loosely translated, her professional love at first sight). He taught her the fundamentals, and she learned to make her own prototypes; she later opened her own boutique and atelier, connected by a spiral staircase. The brand is based on a selection of bag exoskeletons, every element of which is made to measure: leather (60 color choices, in exotic skins like ostrich, crocodile, kidskin), lining, buckles, zippers, pockets, straps or handles, and the hue of the stitching. The “mix and match” spectrum ranges widely, from classic to bold. Once selected, every detail is fashioned seamlessly in the atelier, using French artisanal techniques. Each feature has pragmatism and great design behind it, to create durability. The policy is “if it’s not perfect, we don’t sell it,” Edwina says simply.
par Sarah Moroz & Greg Kessler