Delvaux, a luggage label from 1884

THINK OF IT AS THE BELGIAN ANSWER TO HERMES… In fact Delvaux is eight years older, founded in 1829 (fun fact #1: Belgium declared its independence only a year later). It’s also into timelessness – many of its styles remain unchanged for decades. Ditto craftsmanship – the bags are entirely handmade and luxurious inside out (fun fact #2: The label’s been the official purveyor to the Belgian royal court since its early years); I inspected them first-hand at the brand’s Tokyo store recently.

The carved walls and fixtures in the Brussels store are inspired by Flemish architecture and echo the bags’ sculptural shapes

WHICH ALSO MEANS IT’S $$$… Prices here were unavailable at press time, but a check on shows that the most entry-level version of its must-get signature, a mid-sized La Brilliant top-handle, goes for US$6,000 (or S$8,040 and, FYI, pre-order only). At the highest end of the spectrum is the full-ostrich-skin Tempete top-handle/satchel for US$18,300. In this age of hyper luxury, when it’s normal to spend $3,000 and up for a bag, you seldom get more opulent than this.

A 1960s photo of a guest with the Brilliant top-handle outside Brussels’ Hotel Metropole

BAGS ARE THE FOCUS… Many leather goods brands these days know the hook of novelty items that can span keychains to baby shoes. They’re a great way to introduce someone to a brand (the keychain) or appeal to hardcore fans (the baby shoes) – if that’s what you’re looking for. But if your main purpose is to purchase a bag, Delvaux gets straight to business: It makes only bags and SLGs (small leather goods). From a grained leather briefcase for work, to a croco pochette for black-tie galas. Zero sidetracks. (This probably also means that its artisans devote all their time to perfecting your bag.)

Brilliant Top-handle, Delvaux

THE BAG TO OWN… The one that everyone’s going to compliment you on is the Brilliant top-handle. It dates back to 1958, is made of 64 pieces of leather and metal, anchored by an oversized buckle cleverly shaped like a “D” (for Delvaux, geddit?), and in an elegant box shape. Among all of the label’s designs, it’s the most recognisable, seen on the arms of everyone from Belgium’s Queen Mathilde to Rihanna (hers is the Magritte edition) to K-pop stars. That is, if one knows the brand in the first place.

The full version of this feature is in Female‘s August issue, out on newsstands now.

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