There is nothing that Yiouri Augousti, the Y in R&Y Augousti — the Paris-based home furnishings collection he designs with his wife, Ria — would rather discuss than his daughter. “I’m a typical Greek father, I’m just so attached to her, I really love her,” said Augousti last month during a trip to New York from Paris, where his business and family are based. Kifu, Augousti’s daughter, who he says “is 17 going on 25,” happens to be particularly relevant to this conversation, which pertains to R&Y Augousti’s new line of handbags, launching for spring.
Over the years, the Augoustis have produced a few clutches and minaudières, which, like the firm’s signature furniture, are done in exotic skins — shagreen and colorful pythons. Now that Kifu is at an age that she’s out on the town — clubbing with Olivier Theyskens, for example, said Yiouri — she needs appropriate fashionable attire. “She kept going, ‘Papa, I just don’t know why you guys don’t do the bags properly! If I didn’t have so much schoolwork, I’d pitch in,’” said Yiouri, adding that Kifu will be a freshman at Sarah Lawrence next fall.
With new investment capital behind them, R&Y Augousti is in expansion mode, first with a New York showroom for the furniture collection, which opened in March, and now the bags, which are being launched as an entity separate from the furniture.
The pieces are designed and priced with Kifu and her friends in mind, so while some of the large totes will fetch upward of $2,000 at retail, most of the clutches hover around the $500 mark, with wallets and smaller items available for $325. There are python and linen totes, ombré python baguettes and minaudières with shagreen and shell chevron patterns. Everything, including the bronze hardware, is produced in the Augousti furniture factories in the Philippines, which allows them to control the cost.
In addition to Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf Goodman has picked up the collection, where it will be merchandised on the fifth floor (for which R&Y Augousti designed the display furniture) with the contemporary collections. “We’ve gone for a middle market because there isn’t really a strong, luxurious product with skins middle-priced,” said Yiouri. “You go downstairs at Bergdorf and you’re hit by Nancy Gonzalez, which is really serious stuff. We’re for the Alexander Wang girl, the Proenza girl, it’s really a younger crowd.”
For now, the focus is on the U.S. market. “We know a lot of editors and designers here who we entertain during fashion week, so we thought, wait a minute, this is all going to connect now,” said Yiouri. “We love New York. And more importantly, our daughter’s coming here.”
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