NEW YORK — Former model Fatim Blondeau’s new handbag collection, Kissa, is no bored-backstage vanity project.
Because, although she walked runways in Paris and New York for 10 years, she wouldn’t be recognized by name or face — except for maybe being mistaken for Naomi Campbell. And secondly, it’s clear she didn’t intend to actually make a business doing it.
“I knew I loved [making bags], but I didn’t know you could make a living out of it,” she said, sounding a bit naïve, considering her background. “In Africa, everybody does things like this, it’s like a hobby. But no one takes it as seriously with marketing and things as they do here.”
The 30-year-old former model studied with a local tailor in her native Mali and later moved to Paris for a more formal education in fashion. In 1994, after a year in school, she didn’t have enough money to support her passion — handbags — and was encouraged to model. She walked runway shows for houses such as Christian Dior and appeared in ads for United Colors of Benetton.
It was on a shoot for Elle that photographer Gilles Bensimon saw a handbag that Blondeau had made and urged her to get in touch with Stefani Greenfield, co-owner of the Scoop boutiques.
Greenfield bought a selection of the bags, which wholesale from $200 to $350, and they are expected to arrive within the next few weeks.
The suede bags are manufactured in Morocco and Turkey. They come in violet, white, black and brown and feature intricate Moroccan-inspired embroidery. Blondeau also makes alligator-embossed leather clutches with large metal discs on the flap.
“They totally fit my vibe for spring,” said Greenfield, “that ethnic, rich, hippie thing.
“Even though the bags are structured, they’ll still work with our long skirts and the drapy cotton voile things we have coming in,” she said.
Blondeau hopes to place the collection in a larger specialty boutique such as Bergdorf Goodman, but couldn’t estimate sales projections for her first year in business. She has no sales representation yet.Blondeau traveled back to Mali for the holidays and regrets not bringing back any of the fabric that has inspired her from the start. Next time, she said, “I’ll bring my whole village.”
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast