PARIS The Prototypes Workshop
Lancel’s archives already housed a forerunner of Charlie in the form of a 48-hour bag made in the 1960s that is both roomy and well-structured. Once softened, simplified, and embellished, the revamped model demonstrated its modern qualities from the very first trials. Its striking popularity was possible thanks only to months of intense research. The prototype workshop, located just a few floors away from the design studio, is run by a traditional master craftsman. “We work closely with the creative team and our proximity increases our reactivity”, they stress at the workshop.Every skin must pass a series of strict tests at Lancel, from an initial inspection to a resistance test via verification of the dyes specifically developed for Lancel.
At the heart of the creative process
episode 1 | PARIS
ESPELETTE Peerless Tannery
Charlie’s leather is characterized by a thickness that guarantees sturdiness. The leather’s beauty stems from the uniqueness of its natural grain, which is further enhanced by the special shrunken grain process. Tanned with mineral salts in situ, the high-quality hides arrive in Europe only to be sorted and tanned once again. Throughout the entire treatment process we monitor the hides so that they live up to their full potential. The most important stage is dyeing in the hues developed by Lancel’s own colorists, completed by a final spraying during the finishing process.
Making of a signature leather
episode 2 | PAYS BASQUE
SAN DANIELE Perfect Assembly
Before they can be fashioned into a Charlie bag, these exclusive buffalo skins have to cross Europe. They head for Italy’s Veneto region. The magnificent, six-foot-long hides inevitably bear the scars of the buffalo’s life. Only half of each hide will therefore be used, meaning that more than two hides are required to make a single Charlie, with four weeks required to assemble each one. A machine will determine which pieces can be cut from the healthy remainder: there are no fewer than thirty-seven pieces in the Charlie puzzle. Expert fingers pull it, test its solidity, remove unruly threads. This final grooming is the end of a long journey in which dozens of talented men and women have taken part .