Fashion

#Longchamp70: 7 things you might not know about Longchamp

The epitome of Parisian chic and luxury travel, Longchamp celebrates its 70th anniversary and we are here to take you on an adventure inside the house's rich heritage.
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Founded in 1948, Longchamp is a family adventure for the Cassegrain family, where Jean Cassegrain stands as the founding patriarch with his son Philippe.

And now in 2018, the adventure continues as the third generation takes on the helm – Jean (Philippe's eldest son) as the CEO, Sophie Delafontaine as the creative director and Olivier (Philippe's younger son) as the head of the brand’s development of American boutiques.

And ahead of its 70th-anniversary celebration, set to take place in Paris on 11th September, let us take you on a journey through the rich history of Longchamp.

Presenting to you, 7 things you did not know about the house of Longchamp:

To start our journey, let's see how did the name Longchamp come about?

It all began during one of Jean Cassegrain's daily rides between his home and the center of Paris where he would pass by one of the last mills in the capital.

The mill was nestled at the end of the Longchamp racecourse and through a little wordplay with the sound of his surname, reminiscent of milling – “cass-grain:” literally “seed-breaker” – and associating it with the world of saddlery, the house of Longchamp was born!

The Longchamp Smoking Pipe

But did you know that Longchamp never started with bags?

In fact, when the founding father Jean Cassegrain started the business, he set the tone by creating a luxury smoking pipe sheathed in leather.

Back in the late '40s, it was the perfect beginning for Longchamp, where smoking in public was deemed fashionable.

From American soldiers to Parisian locals, the pipe was an instant hit!

Journey Into The World of Women's Accessories

And from there, Jean expanded to a complete range of accessories that also appealed to women, riding on the hype where the iconic Marlène Dietrich was photographed with her cigarette holder.

And on 1st May 1948, Longchamp made its big debut at the Paris Fair, a major meeting place for innovations where luxury houses eagerly return after the war.

Philippe Cassegrain fondly recalls, "My father welcomed customers from all over the world to his booth, curious to discover the latest novelties and up-and-coming fashion styles. It is necessary to understand the context: this was the year when the public discovered the first television sets, and they worked - a revolution!".

After its success in smoking goods, Longchamp finally ventured into leather accessories – namely briefcases, desk pads, and cardholders.

At a time where sea freight was thriving, Jean seized the opportunity to attract a large clientele around the world who were all fond of Parisian novelties.

And while Jean focuses on developing his base in Paris for the brand, he sent his son Philippe off to conquer the rest of the world.

At 16, Philippe started his journey to the region of Africa and in the following year, he ventured to Asia to discover cities like Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia.

Phillippe recalls, "My mission was to meet with my father’s contacts, who later helped us to develop the brand in Asia. It was my final objective, but before that, I had planned stopovers in Singapore, with the Robinsons Department Store, and in Malaysia. In Hong Kong, the tobacco and cigar trade was significant, along with coffee, especially on Peder Street. I was curious about everything - I met with many contacts."

The Birth of an Icon

And nothing represents Longchamp more than the Le Pliage bag – an icon that was created by Philippe Cassegrain in 1993 after he succeeded over the company from his father Jean.

And did you know that this year also marks the 25th anniversary of the Le Pliage?

Named after a French verb (that translates to "to fold"), the Le Pliage was inspired by the Japanese art of origami during one of Philippe's travels to the East.

The Ties with America

Another thing you might not know is that Longchamp has always had great relations with the United States?

It all started with American soldiers who adored the Longchamp smoking pipes, which created the first group of clientele for the brand.

After his journey to Africa and Asia, Philippe headed over to North America for three years to set the foundations for Longchamp.

And from there, when the Orly airport in Paris opened with first direct flights between New York and Paris made available, Longchamp started its evolution to be a star in luxury travel.

One of the earliest Longchamp outposts was at Orly where Jean Cassegrain was the first who set up shop to appeal to the travelling consumers from New York.

Philippe says, "Trading with these customers was a real pleasure, all of them were nice people. They were waiting for their flight, and there wasn’t much trade. They were seasoned travellers who often passed by, allowing us to build relationships. They were ordering goods for their return flight."

"So it was my job to supply what they needed because I didn’t always have the requested items on the spot."

Kendall for Longchamp

Making a full circle for its 70th anniversary, Longchamp decided that it is time for a homage to the United States – more aptly to New York.

The first New York touch was the Longchamp collaboration with New York designer Shayne Oliver of Hood By Air.

Then came the announcement where Longchamp appointed American model and star Kendall Jenner as its new muse, who represents a new generation of Longchamp woman.

And to kickstart its 70th-anniversary celebration, Longchamp hosted its first-ever runway show in New York on 8th September 2018, which will lead to its gala night in Paris on 11th September.

Creative director Sophie Delafontaine says, “Kendall Jenner symbolizes the aspirations of the new Longchamp woman. A feeling of freedom, freshness, and authenticity in a world that keeps moving faster and faster. Longchamp is the brand of women who, like Kendall, are active, multi-faceted and multi-talented, with a creative and independent spirit.”

#Unexpected70

Following its New York show, Longchamp is set to host the #Unexpected70 party in Paris and we are one of the few exclusive media invited to join in the celebration!

And as we speak, we are flying off to Paris with Longchamp and while we are at it, we are also meeting Kendall herself for a little tête-à-tête.

So you need to stay tuned and watch this space for our exclusive interview with the one and only Kendall Jenner!

For the latest updates on the Longchamp 70th-anniversary celebration, follow @longchamp and @lofficielmalaysia on Instagram!

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