HIDDEN AWAY – A JEWEL BOX CALLED PERRIN
I did a little tease the other day showing a photo of a gold leather ball, wow, what was that? That was one of the amazing designs I discovered tucked away behind a gate, in a courtyard behind the Palais Royal.
Before I got to Paris my friend and tour guide par excellence Richard Nahem sent me sent me a link and said ‘Have I got something I want to show you.” Of course the minute we finished lunch the first day I said, We must go there now. So off we went, to a discreet building tucked away on a street near the Palais Royal. If you walked by the door, you would not think much. If you are the curious sort you might wonder who lives back there? What are the apartments like? What does it look like? I tend to think that about many doors.
We rang the bell and were immediately let in to a lovely courtyard, and nestled into the right hand corner was a shop bearing the name Perrin.
A lovely lady called Marie opened the door and we entered a small store and were met by the most extraordinary handbags, gloves and sunglasses. Each design is unique, chic, and beautifully made.
For a purse lover such as myself it was like being inside a jewelry store. When I first held the ball bag I actually gasped. It is like no bag I have ever seen. I was so taken aback I had to leave after an hour and return the next day. I was suffering handbag over stimulation. I was like a kid who had been on too many rides at the carnival after having consumed too much cotton candy, I needed a time out.
So what is Perrin? Who is behind it? Are there any more of these jewel boxes tucked away in other cities?
The story goes like this ~ The House of Perrin dates back to 1893. The company started by making gloves. It went on to become one of the premiere glove producers in France and remained as such through many generations.
In fact it wasn’t until 1949 they started making other leather crafts. I don’t know if it was always a place one had to know about or if they were in stores.
Fast forward to 1987 when Henri Perrin the great-great grandson of the founders took over the company: In 2007 his brother Michel who had made a success for himself here in the States in software decided he would return to the family business. He brought along his wife Sally, an American though naturalized French citizen. Sally, a former model and is said to be the perfect Perrin customer. She is creative director and handles branding and merchandise. She oversees the collections, and has really turned Perrin into one of the most creative, beautiful and exciting leather companies I have ever seen.
The Ball Bag is truly unique in every way, the way they braid the leather, the quality and colors they use, and then the truly original design. It’s not only a bag, but a piece of sculpture and a conversation piece.
After I had spent a good hunk of time, fawning over each and every Ball Bag, my eyes stopped on a thin clutch with a small handle. It was very pretty but it looked too thin to be really useful. I unzipped it only to find the most organized thing I had every seen, There are fourteen slots for credit cards, a zippered compartment for money, a spot for an iPhone, a snap to hold your glasses in place, a little place to tuck a lipstick, even a place to attach your keys. I was dubious that my asthma inhaler could fit, it did. It’s the sleekest, best organized purse ever.
Marie told me it was called ‘The Martha” after Martha Stewart who had helped in it’s design.
So, what happens if you are not in Paris and you don’t’ find your way to 35, rue Petits Champs? Well, in 2009 Sally and MIchel opened a store in Beverly Hills, where they spend much of the year with their two daughters. And in April, they are taking over the space in the Carlyle where Judith Leiber sold her little jeweled bonbons for so many years.
And if you are not in one of those three cities you can also find them on their website. How is it I have never heard of these before?