"I rather like to see someone I don't know wearing my bag in the street and I have no idea how they got it," Olympia Le-Tan said at the press conference before the presentation of handbags she'd designed as the special guest of Pitti W, the smaller women's counterpart to Florence's famed menswear trade show, Pitti Uomo. "Of course, it's nice when Natalie Portman is wearing one at a premiere, too," she added.
Le-Tan, who began her design career under Gilles Dufour at Chanel at just 19, has earned the adoration of fashion insiders like Sofia Coppola and Olivier Zahm for both her hand-crafted book clutches and her DJ skills at Paris hot spot Le Baron. As the first accessories designer invited to present at Pitti W, Le-Tan churned out an appropriately Italian-themed collection comprised of 36 bags inspired by Italian cinema and literature. "I studied Italian literature and chose [to make bags] according to the books and movies I like," Le-Tan said, switching fluidly between Italian, English and French, answering each reporter in his or her native tongue (it was quite impressive). Last season Le-Tan, went beyond the book shape, and introduced milk carton and cook book clutches. For her Pitti collection, she introduced a round film canister shape, each embroidered with a classic Italian film like La Dolce Vita, Senso, and Riso Amaro.
Le-Tan presented her collection at the charming tea-candle-lit Museo Bellini, where guests took in her bags which were nestled in and around the faded artwork and sculpture. "It reminded me of houses in Viconti," Le-Tan said of the venue. Colorful macarons and champagne flutes were passed out. But there was more than bags and renaissance art to gawk at. As homage to the Italian cinema that inspired her work, Le-Tan had photographer Max Farago snap herself and some of her famous friends (including Tilda Swinton, Hamish Bowles and Olivier Zahm) as characters in those iconic films. Olivier Zahm is naked as the day he was born, recreating a scene from Salò. Le-Tan oozes sex appeal as Silvana Mangano in Riso Amaro.
Up next? Apparel. "Next season [for fall winter 2012/2013] I will do a few items of clothing," Le-Tan said. "But definitely not a runway show." We can't wait to see what she has in store.
Click through to see photos of the collection and the presentation.
Photos: Courtesy Pitti Immagine and my iPhone with Instagram