MILAN – Next June will mark the 50th anniversary of Sen. Robert F. Kennedy’s promising run in the 1968 presidential campaign, which was cut short by his assassination the night of his victory in the California Democratic primary. To commemorate the man and his work, the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Foundation and accessories designer Olivier Bernoux are launching a capsule collection of fans and clutches to benefit the foundation’s activities in Italy.
“This is an absolute breakthrough,” said Kathleen Kennedy during the collection’s official launch at the Super trade fair here, where Olivier Bernoux was an exhibitor. “I think he is going to be the breakthrough designer. People are going to say, ‘If Olivier did it, I can do it.’”
Kennedy explained that Bernoux’s novel idea was to emblazon inspiring words from her father’s speeches on clutches and fans, such as “Ripples of Hope,” “Truth to Power,” “Why Not,” “Hope,” “Dare,” and “Dream.” Kennedy saw it as a fantastic rebuttal to slapping massive designer logos and labels on purses.
“Why not try fashion provocation with good values?” asked Bernoux.
“I chose ‘Dare’,” Kennedy said of her own black leather clutch from the collection. “One of the things we are always looking for is courage.”
Bernoux said his collaboration with the foundation began with his meandering on the Internet some time ago and bumping into web pages on RFK. Inspired by the senator’s work and speeches, he jumped at an opportunity two years later in a chance meeting with Kerry Kennedy, who is the president of the foundation. Kerry immediately warmed to the idea of the collection, said her sister Kathleen, because their father “appreciated art and appreciated fashion” as a means to touch the heart.
A veteran of LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, Bernoux began his own brand three years ago. He is on a mission to revive “craft magic” in his luxury accessories, particularly fans as a “weapon of massive seduction” in silk knitted as jersey, intricately carved wood, and marquetry with exotic leathers, precious stones and silver adornment. His palette favors gold and black.