Celine Launches Made-to-Order Crocodile Leather Handbags – WWD

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PARIS Celine is launching a line of crocodile leather handbags, joining the ranks of luxury goods makers that are developing exclusive and rarefied products cater to well-heeled consumers.

The Celine haute maroquinerie collection, available beginning in October, will offer its bestselling 16 and Triomphe handbag models in Nile crocodile leather, which comes in 14 shades, including a dusty pink known as Marly and a rich chestnut hue called Riesener. Recognizable for its large scales, the exotic leather has been glazed to a high sheen with an agate stone.

Customers can pick from an assortment of hardware in 18-karat white or yellow gold, including closures that can be customized with diamonds, either in pavé or solitaire settings. In the ultimate example of stealth wealth, the Triomphe closure is offered with a solitaire on the concealed part of the clasp. Initials can be embossed into the goat skin lining.

A selection of hardware for Celine's haute maroquinerie collection.

A selection of hardware for Celine’s haute maroquinerie collection.
Courtesy of Celine

The house declined to disclose the price of the handbags, cementing their aura as status items for ultra-high-net-worth individuals.

The numbered bags will be produced by a dedicated artisan at Celine’s Italian leather goods workshop in Radda in Chianti in Tuscany, which overlooks rolling hills and vineyards. The artisan is responsible for the bag’s entire assembly, from the selection of skin to cutting and stitching.

“Each bag is created as a single piece. Leather cutting only occurs once an order has been placed,” the house said in a statement. Each custom-made 16 handbag takes 17 hours to produce, while the Triomphe requires 12 hours of labor.

Artistic director Hedi Slimane has been steadily growing the brand’s high-end offering, even as he courts the TikTok generation with buzzy collection films and $435 cropped tops. In February, he unveiled an ad campaign featuring Blackpink’s Lisa for his haute parfumerie collection, launched in 2019.

And the designer has sprinkled made-to-measure designs, often produced in collaboration with artists, into his ready-to-wear collections.

The 16 was his first design after joining Celine in 2018, and was famously unveiled on the arm of Lady Gaga, making her the first celebrity to wear Slimane’s designs for the brand. The flap on the made-to-order version has a crocodile underside, considered a technical feat because the leather is both delicate and stiff.

The 16 handbag in Nile crocodile leather from Celine's haute maroquinerie collection.

The 16 handbag in Nile crocodile leather from Celine’s haute maroquinerie collection.
Courtesy of Celine

Each haute maroquinerie bag comes with a mirror bordered in matching leather, and is delivered in a leather-lined lacquered eucalyptus wood coffer, with a plaque that can be engraved with the owner’s name.

Parent company LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton has been doubling down on exotic skins, despite protests from animal rights campaigners, who want the luxury conglomerate to follow the example of Chanel, which said in 2018 it was halting the use of leathers including crocodile, lizard, snake and stingray.

Louis Vuitton recently inaugurated two leather goods workshops in France that specialize in bags made from exotic skins, while the renovated Dior flagship on Avenue Montaigne has an entire counter dedicated to bags made from rare materials such as crocodile, ostrich and python leather.

Celine said the skins for its haute maroquinerie collection have been sourced from a supplier certified by the International Crocodilian Farmers Association, a nonprofit association created to develop and improve crocodilian farming practices with respect for animal welfare, the environment, people and local communities.

They are treated by a tannery associated with the IFCA that is certified ISO 14001, an industry recognized standard based on environmental management compliance.


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