Made to order
Every item coming out of the studio is handcrafted to order, from the simplest of the card-holders to the most complex of the handbag designs.
A unique number is assigned to each new handbag order. This is simply the next number in the sequence of that particular model; Flatiron #6 is followed by Flatiron #7, which is then followed by #8. As these items are so labour intensive to create, on average, just one is completed each month.
When an order is taken on, a gold-plated brass disc is stamped with the sequence number and presented to the client as guarantee of the commission. A second counterpart disc is also struck and put aside to be riveted onto the inside of the bag when it is completed.
The client's name is inked on a slip of parchment which will be hidden in the body of the bag with the final few stitches.
The image shows all the components which will be attached to a Splitwedge, including the gold-plated sequence number disc.
The brass hardware is hand polished in the studio before being sent to a specialist gold-plater in Hatton Garden, London's Jewellery district.
All the fittings, from the studs to the feet, are plated in 24c gold.
'24 carat' equates to a purity of over 99.95% pure gold. This ensures a beautiful bright glow which will slowly mellow to a warm amber colour over the first few years of use. Should a client prefer the bright qualities of fresh gold this can be easily maintained with a few minutes work once a year. The generous thickness to which the fittings are plated guarantees there will never be any danger of the brass wearing through, even on bags used daily for many years to come.
Each item ordered has a drawer set up for it in the studio; this will be it's home for the months that it is in production - a place to organise the paperwork and begin collecting the components. As other commissions are completed and the focus moves to another project, these trays move up the chest of drawers in strict chronological order.
Cut by hand
Every component is marked and cut by hand. This task calls for a very precise set of tools, many of which are unavailable so must be made especially for purpose. This knife, for example, was forged to a profile perfect for cutting tight curves.
After the components have been cut, the edges must be bevelled and then hand-burnished to a crisp shine.
Every individual stitch mark must be cut by hand, using a razor-sharp awl. There are 738 of these stitch-points in the Inkwell, the smallest of the Core Collection designs, with many thousand on the larger. If a single hole is cut out-of-line with the others, this component must be discarded and work begun on it once again.
The pocket on the right was embossed with a 24c gold leaf stamp. This discrete logo, hidden inside the finished bag, is the extent of the branding.
The process of hand-stitching is perhaps the most labour intensive of all those involved.
It can take many days, sometimes weeks, to carefully 'close' a bag. The technique is an ancient one, known as the 'Saddle-stitch', which creates a stitch of great strength and flexibility.
Every single stitch is formed by hand using nothing more than an awl and a single long cord of beeswaxed linen thread with a saddler's needle attached at each end. These two needles pass in opposite directions through the same hole, creating a pair of stitch lines which run back and forth, firmly bound together in a double helix.
The linen thread used is the finest available. Lin Câblé 'Au Chinois' has been continuously produced in France since 1847,
Completed and documented
When the bag is almost complete, one of the final tasks is to drop the small parchment slip into the lining of the bag itself.
This slip notes the client's name, the unique sequence number and the year the bag was completed. It is hidden from view with the final line of stitches and will only be seen again should the bag require a repair decades down the line. With these stitches the clients name is bound with the bag forever and the order is completed.
When each bag is finished it is documented using a Polaroid camera, This frame is signed and included in the presentation in the final packaging.
After the finished bag has been oiled, waxed and burnished, and after the gold-plated hardware polished, the bag is ready for presentation. The boxes are either delivered by hand or couriered to the client directly.
This presentation represents the end of a long process in the studio but, for the client, it is the start of a long life with their new handbag.
All items are personally guaranteed, for life.