I discovered Sigrid de L’Epine’s leather cases on Instagram after I saw them on a few very chic women that I follow. Then, I went on Sigrid’s personal account and thought, I understand where the chicness comes from and wait…I knew Sigrid (very informally) from my previous life at Harper’s Bazaar, because she was Nicolas Ghesquiere’s PR when he was at Balenciaga (the heyday if you ask me). Sigrid’s fashion pedigree is top notch, she then went on to become the PR for Chanel Haute Couture. Her latest venture, DEL’EP, is an accessory line based around small leather cases that hold the everyday items you need–your phone, your keys, your reading glasses. Her appreciation of simplicity in design and an ethos of fewer, better things sync with my priorities. Before reaching out to her, I bought two pieces and they are quickly becoming a part of my everyday wardrobe. An added plus, they are quite affordable. Then, I reached out to Sigrid and she agreed to be interviewed….so, please enjoy!
What was the inspiration behind Del’Ep?
The inspiration behind DEL’EP our “Maison d’Etuis” (“house of cases”) is to make your life easier, to avoid wasting our precious time looking for our phones, our glasses or our keys, to have everything with us, handsfree, so we can go anywhere free spirited.
After being in fashion for many years, what made you want to launch your own brand?
As I needed more and more to have my spectacle glasses always with me, I couldn’t bear to spend my time looking for them, I wanted to be able to carry them around my neck, without having to wear the grandmother chain, which I found too old and not safe enough to protect my glasses.
I wanted a leather glasses case I could wear like a “sautoir” necklace. I looked for it everywhere, went to every luxury goods brand in Paris, but never found it.
So to solve my problem, I eventually had the design I had in my head made by a very talented leather craftsman. Looked for it, didn’t find it, so I had it made!
What lessons that you have learned in your career did you apply to starting DEL’EP?
Pretty much everything. I‘ve built DEL’EP with all that I am, what is the most important for me today, and of course with all that I’ve learned and experienced as head of communications at Balenciaga and then at Chanel’s Haute Couture.
I‘ve put into my brand all that I learned in my private and my professional life, all my values and what matters to me today. I love simplicity so I wanted my leather cases super simple; but the more simple something is, the more perfect it has to be. For me simplicity goes with luxury, and it’s often the most difficult thing to find.
For example, an exquisite apple pie or a perfect Croque Monsieur sandwich in Paris aren’t the easiest to find. There are a lot, but very few are perfect. [I asked Sigrid for her faves: The apple pie is Berthilon on the île Saint Louis, the Croque at Brasserie Bellanger in the the 10th in Paris. You’re welcome!]
Do you still follow fashion? What do you like about it today? What do you wish would change?
Yes, I still love fashion, the elegance of it, beautiful materials, great tailoring, details and quality. After so many years in these incredible houses I became very picky, when I buy something I really want it perfect. The way it has been made and where it comes from is very important to me as well, I do care of its “history and traceability”.
I admire the freedom and the ecologic awareness the new generation in fashion has, they are very concerned with the future of our planet. The world of Fashion is slowly becoming aware, there’s more respect for the environment and nature. Its transformation will take time, but it seems on the right path.
What does DEL’EP stand for?
Freedom, respect and a new way of consuming, better and less. If you buy pieces you love, ethically made with the best materials, you’ll keep them for life.
Our leather cases are made with the know-how of our best French craftsman in the highest quality vegetable-tanned leather, so they grow old gracefully (just like us!) You will change your glasses, your phone or maybe even your keys, before you will have to change our leather smart cases.
Do you also carry a handbag?
Less and less, but If I’m running around for meetings all day long then I do, as I always need to carry more than only my phone, keys and glasses, but as much as I can, I prefer to go handsfree. Then I wear only my leather smart cases. When I come out of my house and realize that I have everything I need, without having to be stressed out about looking for it, it’s so satisfying, such a relief.
Your favorite way to wear your pieces:
There are different ways to wear our leather cases, it depends of the models. The glasses case can be worn around your neck like a leather jewelery, it’s so convenient to have your glasses always with you whenever you need them without having to look for them! Same for the key ring, I usually wear it around my neck, I kind of like to wear both together, I find it chic, but it can be rolled in my purse as well when I have one or in a pocket.
The phone case can be worn “en bandouliere” cross-shoulder, over or under your coat or your jacket, or if you prefer around your neck as well. My men clients like to wear it on their shoulder, hidden under their arm, just like a gun holster. Everyone finds their own way to wear them.
How will you wear them this summer?
I usually wear it pretty much the same ( over my shoulder), as I wear them during the winter. I love to wear it on a long shirt or on a dress or a caftan, it always adds a touch of chic. And it’s so convenient to travel with these smart cases, you have everything you need without having to look for it everywhere.
During my summer holidays, I can also have it rolled in my basket when I go to the beach, it’s very important to keep your glasses and the camera of your phone well protected.
Most of the time, I’m wearing white and bright colors during the summer that I like to match with my own camel or black leather cases. I like all the dresses and chino pants from Matteau, their sandals are super nice as well. I also love the French brand Sebline for their incredible men’s shirts which fit so well with my cases. I’m always traveling with a sweater from this beautiful French cashmere line, Alexandra Golovanoff tricots. I’m also in love with the American cashmere company The Elder Statesman, especially their shawls and long jackets. And always a classic discretely striped YSL blazer, that I wear on a top of any of my outfit if I need to get dressed. Regarding my beauty rituals, I never forget to use my crème riche by this incredible French brand called Evidens de Beauté, which makes the skin super soft and well hydrated. For my hair, I love to use a honey mask from the Officine Universelle Buly. I also love their alabaster stone scents and their awesome smelly matches, especially Retour d’Egypte. I recently discovered the new jewelry line by Jennifer Alfano [wink, wink], that I find really classic and super chic, the piece I would dream to have is her Extra Large Mariner Link Bracelet. And last but not least, totally indispensable is my Odile Gilbert hair clip, I cannot live without it.
I usually don’t buy very many things for my summer, as my house in the South is full of many dresses, shirts and caftans I love to buy when I travel. Working at Chanel and Balenciaga, I was very spoiled with so many incredible pieces that I still love to wear.
Who is the DEL’EP woman?
Some one who wants to enjoy life with no useless stress! Someone who likes be free and handsfree, and of course someone who likes beautiful, eco-friendly luxury pieces.
We are starting to have lots of shops requests, which is so nice, we’re now ready to develop the wholesale part of our brand. Today our biggest markets are France and Japan, I hope next will be the States!
We have the chance to have some beautiful ambassadress who love our leather cases and can’t stand to look for their stuff as well, like Charlotte Gainsbourg, Alexandra Golovanoff, Ines de la Fressange and even Kelly Rutherford who can’t leave without her glasses case. We have also new creations coming.
My mantra comes from what I’ve learned through my professional experiences (at Chanel with Karl and Balenciaga with Nicolas), to go and to build a brand step by step and little by little, that’s the secret to longevity.