The Bookish Clutch

Olympia Le-Tan and her literary treasure troves

Text by JaJa Hargreaves

Photography by Carole Peyrot

Styling by Anne-Sophie Rousseau

Olympia Le-Tan, a modern-day Betty Page lookalike, speaks the handmade language fluently. Her minaudières (clutches) and bags are impeccably constructed, delightfully surreal treasures that often draw inspiration from literary works. While many designers might favour mass production, her work honours traditional craftsmanship - a line of interest that has run throughout her career. "My grandmother taught me the art of embroidery," she explains, "and I love it. It helps me relax. Craftsmanship is how I found my way into fashion and it makes my bags special."

Her pieces have immediate impact, reflecting her appetite for curiosities, while her love of books is evident in the dust jacket designs that adorn so many pieces. In an economic climate that's unsympathetic to labour-intensive production processes, Le-Tan's business has thrived. Ask her to describe her approach and she says: "I am a very old-fashioned person and wilfully nostalgic. I don't like anything modern and I celebrate the traditional."

Le-Tan's success implies there are enough consumers looking for a different kind of adventure - moving away from established brands in search of more individualism. And Le-Tan's beautiful pieces never fail to deliver. Truly, once you have seen one of her signature book clutches, it will be ingrained into your consciousness. 

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clutch Olympia Le-Tan

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