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Isabelle Cheron

The artistic director of bag brand Kipling tells Emma McCarthy about its collaboration with designer Peter Pilotto for spring 11

What prompted the collaboration (pictured below right) between bag brand Kipling and London Fashion Week designer Peter Pilotto?

I was drawn towards this collaboration through the press. Peter Pilotto had great exposure at the last London Fashion Week, and his prints really stood out for me initially. But what has really made the difference is the connection [we have]. When you do a collaboration it needs to go further than just a product or a profit; it’s also a personal relationship between people that creates success.

This collaboration seems to be a departure from the traditional Kipling brand identity. What are you hoping to achieve?

The brand signature is evolving, but there is still a lot of work to do. Even though we are known globally, we aren’t necessarily known as a fashionable product. Our bags are not just about pure functionality, which is the identity that most people associate with Kipling, and the collaboration with Peter Pilotto will help change people’s perceptions. Peter Pilotto is a designer brand and this collaboration will help both parties to enlarge their distribution. We will launch a pop-up store in Selfridges to coincide with the launch of London Fashion Week and then target key independents.

Do you see Kipling collaborating with more designers?

What is very important to us is the personality of the designer and for there to be a natural match between the brand and the designer. For autumn 11, I’ve already started to work with another very talented designer. I can’t tell you who it is at the moment, but it will be another very exciting name with a very strong identity.

Which other designer and brand collaborations do you think have worked well and why?

From a consumer point of view, I think Stella McCartney’s work with both Adidas and Gap Kids has been exceptional. I’m quite an active, sporty person, and I continually like what she produces for Adidas. Yohji Yamamoto for Adidas is also very strong, as it goes further than just a collaboration to become almost like its own brand. I also think H&M is quite a powerful machine when it comes to designer collaborations.

How did you get into handbag design?

I’ve always really wanted to work in fashion and I’ve been in the handbag business now for about 15 years. One of my first jobs was as an accessories buyer at French department store group BHV and it was there that I was able to develop an understanding of the handbag market. After that I became artistic director at [French luxury brand] Céline, and later went on to join Kipling in 2006.

What other brands do you admire?

Brands like Michael Kors, Marc Jacobs and Roberto Cavalli, which have forged strong brand identities. Missoni is also a favourite; the brand has core family values because it is family-run.

What was the last thing you bought?

A black and beige neoprene dress by Lisa Marie Fernandez. I bought it in Los Angeles for a shoot, and it’s absolutely amazing.

What is your most treasured possession?

My love bracelet from Cartier, that my husband bought for me two years ago. I’ve never removed it - my husband has the key.

Which is your favourite area of London?

East London. Shoreditch House (pictured) is a favourite spot.

Isabelle Cheron is artistic director of bag brand Kipling

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