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Fashion

Faure Le Page: The French Bag Brand With The Big Guns

Founded over three centuries ago, Faure Le Page is the latest heritage accessories brand to open a one-of-a-kind concept store in Singapore – except that its roots lie not in bags, but weaponry. Creative director Augustin De Buffevent tells Keng Yang Shuen how that sets it apart with some good old-fashioned charm.

One can say that Faure Le Page (say “foray le pahj”, or FLP for short) is something of an anomaly among accessories labels. The French maison got its start in 1717 not with the usual luxury trappings – apparel, bags, watches – but opulent ceremonial weapons created for big-time royals: founder Louis Pigny was a gun- and sword-smith who counted Napoleon and King Louis XVI among his clientele.

While it expanded into the likes of cartridge cases and satchels in the ’20s, it only became a full-fledged accessories house in 2009. That makes its history as one a tad brief by industry standards. Yet it’s emerged as an insider’s secret of sorts, with designs ranging from the Daily Battle (a large everyday-friendly tote) to the Calibre, a boxy top-handle with a distinct handgun-shaped pocket in front.

All come decked in the brand’s signature, scale-like monogram. It’s screen-printed on – each shade painstakingly applied on layer by layer – and modelled after armour as well as mythological creatures such as dragons. “For strength and resilience,” says creative director Augustin de Buffevent.

Yes, de Buffevent – who acquired the house in 2011 – speaks like a modern-day Lord Byron (or French Jon Bon Jovi). In town earlier this year to meet press ahead of the opening of the brand’s first store here at Takashimaya Shopping Centre this month, he refers to his designs as “weapons of seduction”. Point out that talk of guns might not exactly be the best optics during these politically fractious times and he replies unruffled, glimmer in his eyes: “Our motto (Armed for Seduction) is very precise. We’re not making weapons for war; we’re making weapons for love.”

More than a sweet talker, the Parisian is simply the family-owned brand personified: classically sophisticated with playful quirks, including a wry sense of humour. Under him, FLP’s heritage has been harnessed to create one of the most idiosyncratic and endearing French bag brands around. Its ammunition: craftsmanship delivered with shots of wit and cheekiness. “The worst enemy for love is boredom and monotony, so surprise is always an important ingredient in our designs,” says de Buffevent.

Take the Boum Box, an elegant evening clutch given a fun edge this season with leather marquetry featuring the motif of a swimmer underwater on one side, and that of a shark’s fin peeking out from amid the waves on the other. There’s nothing mundane about its local outpost – the ninth worldwide and first in South-east Asia – either. De Buffevent sees the brand’s boutiques as rooms that make up the house of FLP, so each boasts a different concept. The one here takes after a garden. “Gardens are both a Singaporean and French tradition,” he explains.

As with expert marksmen though, stealth remains de rigueur. As de Buffevent puts it: “Seduction is all about discretion. You don’t seduce in a nightclub; you take time and go to a quiet place so that you can converse properly.” For all its play on pistol forms (the Pochette Cal pouch is shaped like one), its styles are simple and anti-trendy; its colour palette earthy, with the nutty yellow Mars Ochre a house special. Basically, when it comes to bags to help combat everyday needs, FLP is locked and loaded. “We create weapons of seduction,” he says. “Now, it’s your responsibility to use them.”