>> I’ve had nearly a month off the fashion week protocol of lugging around a gigantic bag to house the DSLR, two spare batteries, chargers and other bulky accoutrements. Mercedes Benz Fashion Week down in Australia is coming a-calling so one shoulder is likely to bear the brunt of the that aforementioned load. I yearn for a day or two of bijoux mini bag toting, especially if they’re by new London accessories label Janvier.
Co-founder and designer Elle Azhdari, originally born in Iran and then raised in Sweden, was an art director working for the likes of Nike and Coca Cola. In 2011, at a strange menage a trios date, she met Michelle Nakash, who happens to be heiress to the Jordache Jeans empire. Their mutual love of 1980s Los Angels moguls and Rodeo Drive, fictional mafia queens and the bold strokes of Antonio Lopez and Tony Viramontes gave way to the birth of Janvier last year. “At the time I was working as a freelance art director/designer and although I really enjoyed my projects, I felt like I wasn’t building towards something that I could call my own,” said Elle. “Every project I worked on had to end, naturally. It was time to create something that wouldn’t come to an end, and it was all about creating an aesthetic that is true to us.”
With no formal accessories experience as such, the pair instead have channeled their heady references (evident from their brilliant label blog) into Janvier, and got off on the right foot with their debut bag shape called the ‘Parade’. It’s a distinctive minaudière made up of a cylindrical metal cage, rendered in rose, gold or matte black and an inter pouch available in an array of fabrics and textures. “I find it very difficult to pinpoint where my ideas come from, they just appear in my head,” said Elle. “Direct references are obviously art deco, glamour and that point where uptown meets downtown.” She also cites the combination of her rich Persian heritage clashing with an appreciation for minimal Swedish design and indeed, the Parade strikes the balance between audacious glamour and refined elegance, especially when you look at the black-on-black design.
That said what drew me to Janvier though was the infinite possibilities that they have now that they’ve nailed this initial hit of a shape. They offer custom fabric choices so that you can get your own personalised Parade but their own combinations such as bubblegum pink and orange silk satin and my personal favourite, metallic mint and rose leather, means that they can definitely get a lot of mileage out of the Parade. Especially if they find a customer base that can downsize the contents of their handbag. Elle has her own bare minimum contents: “My Comme des Garcons wallet (which fits perfectly), pocket mirror, Nars lipstick, keys, iPhone, mini Sharpie and extra small Moleskine planner, Extra chewing gum and CDG 2 pocket size perfume.”
For their second collection entitled ‘Magic Riviera’, Janvier expands their repertoire. They have continued with the cage theme to come up with a square, pyramid and rectangular shapes as well as a sole metal cage bag for holding mini champagnes – for the ‘West End Girls’ who has it all. Not surprisingly, the motto for this collection is ‘it’s best to wear your money if you got it!'” For the small bag naysayers who are adamant that everything but the kitchen sink must go in a bag, they have designed an “Afterhours” (morning after) rucksack in different finishes. Still, let’s not pretend that Janvier is about functional design. Elle and Michelle revere all things loud, proud and luxe – their current inspiration Top of the Pops list includes the new Rick Ross album, Balmain under Olivier Rousteing and decorative aquariums. Janvier isn’t pandering to trend currents, but rather they’re casting their own aesthetic, one gold coin and chain link at a time.