August 1, 2021

Vanessa Bruno’s magical tote

In 1998, when Vanessa Bruno launched her tote bag, she was far from imagining the tidal wave that would ensue. “I opened my first store in the Saint-Sulpice district, I told myself that I had to offer a bag. I was a young mother, I got around by bike, I needed a very practical model. I wanted something obvious. But what seems simple is never easy to do. “ She then imagines a basic shape, a square canvas mounted like an envelope, in raw cotton, “For a strong appearance capable of counterbalancing the feminine side of the sequins”.

“The phenomenon came from the streets. Quite different women have adopted it: the lawyer, the leather version with eyelet, the high school student, the canvas with sequins. We see him on the beaches, in town… ”Vanessa Bruno

Since its beginnings, its suppliers have remained the same: a craftsman in Brittany, specializing in boat fabrics for the navy, supplies it with its cotton yardages which are then assembled in a workshop located on the outskirts of Paris. For its linen models, it calls on a producer from northern Belgium, who masters culture as well as weaving, a specialist originally in tableware. « I established very strong links with these partners, we grew up together. We were starting from nothing. During the pandemic, we stick together. ”

From its creation, Vanessa Bruno’s tote has been a bestseller. We see it everywhere. “The phenomenon came from the streets. Quite different women have adopted it: the lawyer, the leather version with eyelet, the high school student, the canvas with sequins. You can see it on the beaches, in town… ” And all this without ads. In 2004, her signature bag was even exhibited at the Musée des arts décoratifs, alongside a Hermès model.

Felt, knit, “vegetable leather” …

Whether you cut it in canvas or leather, whether it is accessible or not, creating an it-bag is not for everyone. But the tour de force is to have known, over the years, to transform the object of success: felt, knitting, “vegetable leather”, fake fur in hemp wool … « It’s like a painter’s canvas, I’ve always brought it to life. If it’s just to change the color of the fabric every season, it doesn’t matter much. ”

More recently, raffia has arrived, proving to be a limitless playground for the designer. “I wanted everything to be local, for the palm leaves to be grown, dried and processed on site. ” She finds a small workshop in Madagascar which makes baskets, she trains artisans in the assembly of her shopping bag.

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