Article by Frank Cierpial
I have been blessed to have explored fashion in more than one country. I have been to Haute Couture Fashion Week in Paris and a leather market in Florence Italy. I believe that certain fashions do not only belong to specific brands, but also to specific countries. England is known for men’s suits, France is known for Haute Couture, Italy is known for leather. And the list goes on. Just like designers have a certain « savoir-faire », countries do too. Having experienced fashion in New York, Paris, and Florence, I have also seen brands and designers from the eastern part of the world. I have seen Russian designers in New York. I have seen Vietnamese designers in Paris. For my second Paris Fashion Week, I have seen for my first time one of the finest examples of cultural heritage in a never-before-seen Japanese handbag brand called Estarte. The bags have a distinct look to them, are very artsy and look to me like “confident” handbags. Bags to be worn on the arms of great women.
When I first saw the invitation, I thought it was an Italian brand because of the name, but when I got to the party I realized quickly that the brand was in fact Japanese. The way the word looked seemed very Italian to me at the time, but I learned that the origin of the name is « EST + ARTE » (which still could be confused for Italian or Latin). But it represents a powerful art from the far east. Once I learned about the technique that this brand uses, I realized that this is the highest standard of luxury that ALL luxury brands try to reach.
The idea is taking the traditional « savoir-faire » and applying it to modern designs while using modern technologies. The technique that we are going to focus on today is called Entsuke. Entsuke is a great technique that has been practiced for over 4 centuries. These bags are made in four steps. It is a technique that binds a specific type of Japanese Paper called “Gampi-shi” on the bag. This leaf (Gold Paper) takes 6 months to prepare and is of very high quality. The next step is called “Gilt Decoration”. This is a savoir-faire from the city of Kyoto and has been practiced for a very long time. You have three different materials used. You have Gold, Silver, and Platinum. The next step is the leaf or the Gold, Silver, or Platinum Foil is binding the pieces of foil to “Kenran Leather”. The final result is really fantastic and something that I have truly never seen before. This brand combines many savoir-faire’s from all over Japan.
One of my favorite quotes is from Diana Vreeland when she was the editor and chief at Vanity Fair. She said “It’s not about the dress you wear, but it’s about the life you lead in the dress”. Luxury Brands don’t just capture our minds because of the clothes themselves. They capture our hearts, minds and imaginations because of the great people who woke up one day with a great idea which grew into an empire that people work hard today to preserve. Well done Estarte. I hope to see you accessorizing the greatest of lives.