If life hands you scraps of leather, make a belt and start your own line.
Or at least that was the mentality of Henri Beguelin, the mastermind behind the leather accessories line Henry Cuir. “In the late Sixties, when I was 20, a saddler gave me scraps of leather, and I made a belt that was appreciated by all my friends. That was the discovery of my ability, and the beginning of my passion for my job,” Henri says.
Today, when you shop Henry Cuir, you’re not simply getting a bag or boot. You’re getting a unique piece that has been handcrafted from start to finish. Combining an old-meets-new approach, painstaking attention to detail and a careful selection of materials (most leathers are sourced from Tuscany), Henri designs in such a way that it hardly matters what you wear with his accessories.
“My philosophy is that ten bags may be the same shape, but since they are all made by hand, they are each unique,” says Henri. “Products that are made by machine lose their magic. I’m not a prisoner of machinery, and therefore, my creativity, thanks to my hands, can always find new solutions.” After all, with 40 years of experience under his belt (27 of which were spent at Barneys!), would you expect anything less?
Below, Henri tells all, from the importance of accessorizing to the one thing most people don’t know about him.
You’ve been with Barneys for 27 years! What’s your secret to keeping things fresh each season?
The philosophy that drives me season after season is doing my job with energy, love and passion.
What was the last thing that inspired you?
Often nature inspires my creativity.
Why do you think accessories are such an important part of an outfit?
For me, the accessory is an opportunity to transmit a particular emotion of an outfit. The emotion transmitted to the purchaser is more sensitive, like the hands of a craftsman who cuts, pastes, sews and touches the product.
What kind of woman do you imagine wearing your accessories?
Surely a woman who is beautiful because she transmits to those who admire her inner beauty.
How does your mindset differ when you create shoes versus bags?
Our way of thinking is that all the elements have remained consistently the same since the beginning of this adventure. They are all handmade with only natural materials from stitch, decorations, fabrics, and above all passion and not avidity.
What’s one thing most people don’t know about you?
A very important person who was in our factory told me, “You do not hide anything from anyone about what you do,” and I replied, “ I hide from others what I have not yet done.”
1. Buckle strap knee boot; 2. Maui East/West tote; 3. Large comme ci comme ça bag; 4. Campeche plus hobo bag; 5. Medium pin up bag; 6. Large calembour bag; 7. Cartable envelope; 8. Shearling cuff knee boot; 9. Buckle strap knee boot; 10. Small pirogue saddle bag; 11. Cowboy boot; 12. Short cowboy boot; 13. Large chimere tote