Leather-goods maison Delvaux is a symbol of discreet luxury in an age when the brash and the bold are often held in high esteem. The flagship Hong Kong boutique, newly opened in Central’s Landmark, bears hallmarks of this quiet quality: the slim space is a river of reflective surfaces, soft lighting and sand-hued, Versailles-style parquet. More to the point, it puts the label’s charming accessories and deluxe handbags firmly centre stage.
We took some time with Artistic Director Christina Zeller while she was in town to celebrate the opening, settling ourselves into the plush comfort of the boutique’s intimate private-shopping area. We chatted about the brand’s latest milestones and found out why the limited-edition Tempête Papillon bag is not just fashion; it’s art!
Congratulations on the new boutique. Thoughts on the final space?
I worked on the plans, but to work on the plans and to see the reality, it’s always a big difference. It’s exactly reflecting what we had in mind, to have something sophisticated, not too obvious. We have integrated a touch of Belgian spirit with a panorama of Bruges, and the space is not too big. People will feel there’s a nice atmosphere, a little bit intimate. I think it’s perfect.
Why was Landmark right for Delvaux?
Locations are very challenging in Hong Kong, and we were not in a rush to open in a bad location. The point was to have the right location. We started four years ago with a very, very tiny location at The Peninsula Hong Kong – not a boutique, it’s a boudoir – and now Landmark is perfect to target local customers. You have the executive ladies, you have a good crowd; it’s prestigious and sophisticated.
With Delvaux planting such firm roots in Asia, what do you expect from the market?
I think the Asian market is important for every luxury brand. The brand has been focused for more than 187 years on the Belgian market, so we have the benefit of being the oldest luxury leather-goods company in the world, and at the same time the newest, which is a very interesting mix. Most of the customers are discovering Delvaux, and we are realising that in Asia young customers value history and craftsmanship. The world is going very fast, but they are very attached to tradition; they’re sentimental. It’s very interesting to see how many young customers we have.
Does your Asian customer have different tastes or style to your European customer?
For me, I don’t see a big difference between Asian and European customers. Our customers are travelling worldwide; they have the same education [usually abroad]. Sometimes people ask, “Are you developing something specific for Asia?” The answer is: absolutely not. The collection is a worldwide collection, and the tastes are exactly the same. What is good in Paris is good in Hong Kong or Tokyo or New York.
Often we hear that colour preferences differ between Eastern and Western markets.
For a few seasons, the pinkish colour was very successful in Asia. This spring/summer season, the indigo and the lilac have been particularly appreciated. When I joined the company, colour was absolutely not a Delvaux signature. When you have such a beautiful leather quality you can afford to use a lot of unexpected colours; that’s why cheaper brands stick to basic colours, because cheap leather – with a very precious colour – will look a disaster. When you cover a skin with a dark colour, you don’t see the defects, but as soon as you go for white or for lilac, you see every single defect.
The Tempête Papillon is celebrating its 50th anniversary with a limited-edition release. Tell us about that.
We have been inspired by the psychological tests of Rorschach, when you unfold a piece of paper and discover a motif. The craftsmen used three colours of ink, and depending on the amount of colour or the pressure applied, the motif is different. It’s as if every single bag is a unique piece. Traditional craftsmanship, it’s fine, but for me it needs to be used to go further in terms of innovation and creativity.
It’s like art.
It really is art. We are always pushing forward our techniques. It’s every single season, a step forward. Sometimes production want to kill me!
What differences are there between this style and the original 1967 Tempête?
First, the size of the original Tempête was in-between the GM and the MM [sizes]. Second, the construction was slightly different. It came with piping and not with a raw-edge construction. Me, I’m a fan of raw-edge construction. I think it’s a trademark of high quality, because it takes much more time to produce a bag with a raw edge. You have to do the edge painting by hand, and with the piping you can turn and stitch, and it’s much easier. It’s about perfect execution, but you have to be the best in what you do.