French heritage brand Fauré Le Page, a retailer of luxury handbags and accessories, will soon open a boutique in Singapore.

SINGAPORE (Apr 15): Augustin de Buffévent describes the Fauré Le Page collection of bags and leather accessories as “weapons of seduction” — a play on the brand’s official tagline, “Armed for seduction”. Trust a Frenchman to put a romantic spin on everything. “We stay true to our motto, which is armed for seduction. We create surprise, humour and newness in our designs, so there is no reason why [Fauré Le Page] will not work. We just have to be true to ourselves and true to our promise that luxury is all about expecting the unexpected,” says de Buffévent.

The general manager and creative director of Fauré Le Page was in Singapore at end-March for a media preview of its boutique at Takashimaya, which will open in June.

Every Fauré Le Page boutique is different; for example, the store in Seoul is decorated to look like a dining room. De Buffévent says the Singapore flagship store will look like a garden — a nod to the island’s “city in a garden” concept — and will be decorated with greenery and florals. To reflect the theme, the press preview was held at Pollen, a restaurant in the heart of nature park, Gardens By The Bay.

Fauré Le Page’s iconic items were on display during the preview. A common thread that runs through them is the skilled craftsmanship and luxe feel. Among the products were the brand’s coveted bags — the Daily Battle, the Calibre 21 and 27 leather handbags featuring a pistol-shaped pochette with gun motif as well as the latest Boum Box collection. Each bag has the signature écailles, or fish scale, pattern that references the traditional hallmark of master gunmakers. And as de Buffévent points out, the brand also has a sense of humour — as was evident in a little condom case among the items on display.

It was love at first sight for de Buffévent when he set eyes on the Fauré Le Page collection on one of his many trips to the museums. The Frenchman is passionate about art and spends his free time in museums, at exhibitions and auctions. He was intrigued by the brand’s fascinating history as a weaponsmith for kings and princes, and as a weapons supplier to the French Revolution in 1789 and the July Revolution in 1830.

Grand tradition of craftsmanship

Fauré Le Page was officially founded in 1717 by Louis Pigny and was passed to members of the same family until 1913. Its profile was raised when it became the official supplier of ceremonial weapons during the French Revolution. King Louis XVI’s hunting pieces and Napoleon Bonaparte’s vermeil sabre are just two of its masterworks; these are now displayed in museums.

De Buffévent explains, “I was attracted to the brand because they were involved in so many creative pieces that you can find in museums all over the world. I like the way they were able to work on all types of material, from iron to silver, gold to leather and wood. It is one of the oldest luxury brands in France.” Indeed, Fauré Le Page is older than French luxury fashion house Louis Vuitton, which was founded in 1854.

Fauré Le Page first ventured into the world of bags and accessories with the manufacture of hunting accessories such as cartridge cases, kit bags and satchels. It began making luxury handbags and accessories in 2009 and before long, its monogram tote bags won a cult following.

This is thanks to de Buffévent, who acquired the brand in 2011. “I think I was looking for Fauré Le Page for many years and I had this project within me. I think the stars must have aligned, and I knew that this was something I had to do.” He describes it as a love affair that had been in the making for a long time.

On a more serious note, de Buffévent says, “The origin of their leather goods is from hunting activities and the leather bags were created for men to carry their ammunitions and weapons. Today, I want to create bags that carry items of seduction.”

Meeting of minds

The brand’s partner in Singapore is FJ Benjamin Holdings (FJB), which signed an exclusive franchise agreement with Fauré Le Page to sell its highly sought-after handbags and accessories here.

On how the collaboration came about, Douglas Benjamin, FJB’s group chief operating officer, said his brother Sam first noticed Fauré Le Page when he was in Paris. Douglas then met with de Buffévent and his father to discuss a partnership.

Douglas says, “As with any relationship, you need to get comfortable and meet up a couple more times before a decision can be made. We shared our vision for what we hoped for the brand and understanding of what they wanted for their brand and, at some point, we understood there was a meeting of minds and we just decided to go for it.”

De Buffévent says he is happy the relationship took a while to develop. This romantic notion of taking one’s time in both courtship and business extends to the production of the brand’s products, which are made in Paris. “It is obvious that we want to maintain exclusivity, so we will take our time to launch new products. You cannot add two more craftsmen and think that more bags will be made. It takes a good craftsman about a year to complete some pieces.”

On expansion plans, de Buffévent says he wants to ensure there are enough products to meet demand before doing so. “We want to produce limited editions on a regular basis. I am working with a few craftsmen to develop new concepts. Honestly, I have no idea when they will be launched because I don’t want to pressurise the craftsmen.”

The products, he says, are made with patience and passion. He stresses that passion cannot be forced, citing the Boum Box as an example. “The concept for this evening bag began more than a year ago but it was only launched a few weeks ago.”

De Buffévent stresses that the art of seduction takes time and part of the game is to introduce elements of surprise. The Frenchman says, “If there are no surprises, then boredom will set in, and boredom is the worst enemy of love.”