Balzac’s book ’La Peau de Chagrin’ inspires an artisan bag brand

Balzac’s book ’La Peau de Chagrin’ inspires an artisan bag brand

In La Peau de Chagrin, a 19th century novel by Honoré de Balzac, a young man contemplating suicide happens upon an antique store. There an old man sells him a ’peau de chagrin’, which is a piece of hide that can fulfill his every wish. However, there is a caveat: each wish will shrink the hide, and the size is a symbol of the man’s life. The more he desires, the shorter his life will be. As a romantic story about decadence and debauchery, it’s also a prophetic paradox of mindless consumption, which may bring only short-lived satisfaction.

For Mesh Chhibber and Sofie Cornillon, the story inspired them to create beautiful objects made to the highest degree of craftsmanship, all the more to get close to that thing of beauty that can be a joy forever.

Their first design is a bag shaped after an old-fashioned doctor’s case, with contrasting stitched darts on both sides. Each bag is made in uniquely textured leather thanks to the environmentally sustainable handling. Chhibber and Cornillon scoured Europe for ideal partners, who were still using age-old techniques. They found a Belgian tannery that was treating the leather exteriors with a vegetable-tanning method, and a master artisan in the Swiss Jura who was skilled enough to construct the pieces. The leathers are chrome-free, and that includes the black leather interiors. The end result is a bag that is aged gracefully and can last generations. They are limited edition - only 100 pieces were made to grant the artisans enough time to craft them.

By valuing the careful process and expert knowledge needed to create an object of beauty and character, Peau de Chagrin provides both the highest possible quality and a timeless set of principles. The atmosphere the brand is steeped in is made even more tangible by a gift: a copy of Balzac’s novel comes with each bag, lending a new lease of life to the tradition of decadence.

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