If good things often come in small packages, then even better thing can come in miniature ones. That happens to be the case with Delvaux’s Miniatures Belgitude bags, which have just arrived in our stores across the country. The mini-charm bags may be the wittiest creation to date since Christina Zeller, Delvaux’s Artistic Director, joined the world’s oldest leather goods house in 2011. And that wit and whimsey are capture perfectly in the above short artistic film by famed Belgian film Director, Jaco van Dormael. Credited as the European answer to Tim Burton, van Dormael was given free rein to create the delightfully surrealistic piece, which brings the miniature bags to life in a fantasy-filled, humorous, and creative way.
Established in 1829, the Brussels-based brand has always stood for classic and tailored leather goods, but when Zeller came aboard the brand, she felt it was missing an element of fun. “My goal when I arrived at Delvaux was not to ‘reinvent the wheel,’ but rather to build upon Delvaux’s strengths of centuries-old craftsmanship and strong design DNA. I just aimed to modernize them for the future. As part of the brand’s strength is its Belgian heritage, I wanted to add a key ingredient to the bags—a sense of humor,” says the Swiss-born Zeller.
The Delvaux design studio first tapped into the lighter side of its French neighbor in 2008, with the now iconic “Ceci n’est pas un Delvaux” l’humour bag, which played upon another well-known Belgian, Rene Magritte. (The micro-sized version is part of the Delvaux Miniatures Belgitude as well.) Taking the tongue-in-cheek wit even further, they coined the term “Belgitude” to express this idea throughout the brand. According to Zeller, the term sums up the attitude of the small kingdom. “Belgitude is everything that makes this small country so special. It’s almost a philosophy, a way of living with a particular sense of humor, lightness, and the ability never to take ourselves too seriously.”
Based on the Brillant style bag, which first appeared at the 1958 Belgium-hosted World’s Fair, the seven micro-bags represent aspects of the varied personalities of different cities in the country. For instance, starting with Brussels, the Atomium bag recreates the nine-sphered building—based on an iron atom—which was built for that same fair and now serves as an iconic monument. Next up, Anvers—or Antwerp, as it is more commonly called—is celebrated in a bag that recreates the Belgian flag in round plastic studs and pays homage to the avant-garde fashion that put the Royal Academy of Art on the map—hello Antwerp Six!
The food of Belgium is also celebrated in the minis: a waffle from Liège; mussels from the beaches of Ostende; and, perhaps Zeller’ favorite, les frites from Namur, which poke out of the white mini Brillant bag just as they would from the popular white paper cone in which the fries are usualy served, complete with signature red fork.
Magritte’s famous bowler hat and cloud motif, which also appeared as a full-size bag for holiday 2015, pays tribute to the blue skies peppered with clouds in Knokke-Le-Zoute, a posh seaside resort town, while the cultural artsy side of Gand, which claims Magritte as an adopted son, is imagined in the l’humour bag in miniature.
The brand introduced the collection during Paris Fashion Week this past March with a star-studded party, where the brand took over the Palais Royal and bedecked the space in Brussels sprouts and pink roses while serving all sorts of Belgian treats—cherry beer, fries, and of course, chocolate, while the music of local band Alice on the Roof set the mood. Industry types such as Stephen Jones, Laure Heriard Dubreuil, Lynn Yeager, and Barneys’ own Daniela Vitale, along with Belgian actresses Emilie Dequenne and Deborah François and French singer Soko, had a ball posting on social media, as the installations of the bags on display were fodder for winning posts. With the #delvauxminiatures hashtag launching in September, even more of the playful, adorable bags will be gracing the social media landscape. As Belgian actor Charlie Dupont pointed out during the fun, “All good French things come from Belgium—frites, moules, beer, chocolate, even fashion!” It was a statement that was hard to argue with for those who experienced the party. Expect to see more of the insanely creative décor from the party, as the festivities will be recreated in soon-to-be-unveiled Barneys’ windows to celebrate the launch of the bags.