The young accessories designer has Paris in his clutches
Photography Lucian Bor
Editor Benjamin Galopin
Words Dan Thawley
Production Daniel Hettmann
Hugo Matha is a voyeur. They say the world of Parisian luxury lives and breathes behind closed doors, however this young French designer is determined to change all that: one purse at a time. After quitting his countryside hometown for the City of Light, studies at the Duperre school and time spent in the atelier of Jean Charles de Castelbajac led Matha towards the bespoke side of fashion design, with the first demand for his ultra-modern garments coming directly from private clients. In 2014 he’s lent his artisanal touch to a line of transparent, handmade clutches – precious, Plexiglas windows into a woman’s quotidien, however she wishes to show it. Wrapped in exotic skins and finished with sleek, industrial hardware, these architectural treasure chests are an exercise in opposites; marrying the opaque and translucent, the hard and soft, the ancient and urban.
Photographer Lucian Bor shot Matha’s plastic-fantastic designs exclusively for CR Fashion Book in and around the Palais Royal in the heart of Paris, and we sat down with the man himself at Hugo Matha
HQ nearby, to discover his quiet reimagining of the ‘plastic bag.’ What does the transparency of plastic mean to you?
I have come to realize that most of my girlfriends have a volcanic explosion in their bag. I love going through their things, seeing how the contents of their clutch is such a true reflection of their inner self. Some of the more minimal girls have nothing more than a credit card, a Rodin lip-gloss and a small jar of day cream to stay hydrated. Some of the more ‘jaja’ party girls will prioritize their cigarettes, red lipstick and a condom! What is interesting about my bags is first the size; it makes you think very carefully about what you want to bring with you because it’s like a jewel box, and secondly the Plexiglas makes it public to the world! I imagine that the transparency is a sort of conversation-starter, whether it be between two girls realizing they have the same mascara, to a man interested in the woman and being able to understand a bit better who she is by simply looking into her clutch. She might have a box of matches from Cipriani in Venice, for example. A woman’s secrets are still her secrets, but socially there is something very interesting about giving someone a glimpse of your intimate self and curating your bag accordingly. You are also a fashion designer; can you explain your women’s wear vision? What has driven you towards such a specific accessories capsule?
The woman I always envision while designing is a bit kooky and intelligent. It’s a cold seduction; she doesn’t pay too much attention to her own allure. She is essentially out of a Fellini movie. While I was working on my ready to wear collection, I found myself having a serious moment with the accessories. I became almost completely obsessed with them, I felt that the shoes and bag set the tone, and tell us whom this woman really is. I also loved the idea of having an accessory that lives between the functionality of a bag, but can also live as a beautiful object in your home.
Can you tell us about the fine materials that you work with?
The line of clutches features fine leathers such as crocodile, iguana, lambskin but also wood, metal and Plexiglas which are materials you would typically find within mid-century design objects and furniture. It is the idea of a woman coming home from dinner and setting her clutch down on her front table, and letting it sit there for a week. It’s wonderful because the clutch finds its place within the home like a design object without it ever giving the impression of messiness or having an unintentional personal item just lying around. It has complete duality and shows us the interchangeability between our taste in clothing vs. home decor.The Plexi is of course handmade artisanaly in the Aveyron region of France, where I grew up. Each piece is handcrafted individually and assembled by a team of ten people.
Explain the name and concept behind ‘The Ubiquitous Pochette’?
My friends are always traveling to these incredible places, whether it be for work or for play. I thought it would be wonderful to lend my prototypes to my friends to bring with them on their travels to they can give me real feedback on the ergonomics of the object. Is it easy to carry? Is the opening convenient? Does the shape feel comfortable under your arm? I think especially when you’re traveling you end up bringing only items which you are 100% sure will work in as many contexts as possible. It started off like this, and quickly became a photo diary of my friends traveling around the world with their Hugo Matha clutch, like their own traveling gnome. I keep all the pictures and have been printing them out to make a large family photo diary. I also post them to my Facebook page so everyone can see where the Ubiquitous Pochette was last seen! So, what’s next for Hugo Matha?
A lot of wonderful things; my clutches will be sold exclusively in Colette starting July 2014. I’m working on the next collection… it’s the year of the horse (my birth year as well) so let’s see what it will bring!