Hélène Nepomiatzi Is in the Money-------
You probably don’t know Hélène Nepomiatzi, but you’ve certainly seen her work: She was the hand behind Céline’s Boogie Bag back in the Michael Kors era. She’s also worked with Balmain. But it was Karl Lagerfeld who gave the designer her first break. “He asked me to make a hat out of a handbag for a show [of his eponymous line],” Nepomiatzi recalled yesterday over a coffee in Paris. “I had no idea how I was going to do that, but I said yes.” Other Lagerfeld projects, including a flower bouquet bag and a dog carrier, followed. The art world took note, too: A telescoped python bag Nepomiatzi crafted under her former brand, 31 Février, was snapped up by Pamela Golbin for the Musée des Arts Décoratifs. And the rigid one-off with an inside light she did with Ron Arad for Notify jeans in 2008 touched down at both the MoMA and the Centre Pompidou.
If there’s something a bit otherworldly about Nepomiatzi’s signature style, there’s a good reason for it. The designer happens to know a thing or two about dream interpretation, and symbols tied to money are common currency for her namesake brand. “In France, money is kind of taboo—sort of the way sex is in the U.S.,” she observed wryly. “I thought it would be fun to play with that [notion] in a humorous, provocative way.”
For fall, she’s turned out her now-classic Fort Knox model with tricolor strips of leather anchored by bolt clasps, an homage to her grandfather, who fashioned such hardware.
On a more surreal note, there’s her matchbook purse, as well as a clutch made to look as though it’s dripping in blood. But if that’s a bit strong, there’s another that’s drizzled with gold.
Speaking of coin: Argent, the French word for money, also means silver. In a neat piece of symmetry, the silversmith Christofle recently tapped Nepomiatzi to craft a little passport cover in mirrored leather. Come September, you’ll be able to see how she’s spun that bright idea into the house’s first collection of leather goods.
For more information, visit helenenepomiatzi.com.