Dressage, the equestrian sport sometimes referred to as “horse ballet,” is often associated with the upper echelons of society. It’s a pastime of the rich that drew national attention last summer when Mitt Romney’s horse Rafalca competed in the Olympics. The elite nature of it all is exactly why Charles Chehebar bought the rights to the name Dressage for his new luxury handbag collection, which is launching for spring.

This story first appeared in the December 17, 2012 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

“Dressage is arguably the most elegant sport in the world today,” said Chehebar, the label’s founder and creative director. “Our luxury brand really embodies that sport with its character and details. There’s so much true heritage and authenticity that we clearly translate into our product.” Indeed, the equestrian look has long been prime for reinterpretation at the high fashion level. Hermès and Gucci have a steeped history of horsey references. Chehebar’s bags are classic in their design with understated shapes — totes and small, refined cross-body bags — in polished napa, calf and saddle leather with gold hardware and braided trims. The line retails from $800 to $2,000 and is produced in Florence.

Chehebar has considerable experience in the accessories market. His father, Abe Chehebar, is president of AHQ-Accessory Headquarters LLC, formerly Accessories Network, where Charles worked for 10 years. Accessories Network managed the licenses for brands such as CK Calvin Klein and Karl Lagerfeld, and worked closely with Ghurka. Chehebar decided to launch his own collection a year ago, when he felt the market lacked an authentic American luxury brand. “We did some digging and found out the name Dressage was available,” said Chehebar. “We felt it’s a perfect segue for luxury leather goods, as well as a lifestyle brand in the future. It has all the seeds.”

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