We caught up with the brains behind new brand on the accessories block Death in Paris to talk about how coming of age led to them creating their gorgeous, minimal bags…
The Death in Paris concept originally began as a graphic design collective in Paris, but has now grown to become a byword for modern and functional accessories. Natasha and Mélusine co-founded the Death in Paris bag range to stay true to the minimal aesthetic that the design studio started, but with the pair now operating between London and Bangkok, their work is able to incorporate influences from all the cities that they have lived in. Their first collection for Autumn/Winter 2014 combines these multi-cultural inspirations to create bags that would look just as good on a runway as they would running errands.
We met up with the brains behind the brand to talk about the journey behind the conception of Death in Paris and to get an insight into their plans for the future. You heard it here first: this brand is going to be big.
Tell us a bit about how you two first met…
Natasha: We met in Paris about 3 years ago. Mélusine was based there and I had just moved there to study French. She knew my boyfriend and he ended up introducing us pretty soon after I arrived. We got along and ended up becoming good friends.
What was it like working in graphic design together in Paris?
Natasha: Actually, Mélusine is the graphic designer, it’s not my background at all! I have learned so much from her though…
Mélusine: Death in Paris was the name of the studio I set up after my motion design and graphic design studies. I had worked for a few high fashion brands and so I’d always been passionate about branding. Setting up the studio was really a great adventure as it made me realise that I not only enjoy the communications element of branding, but I really enjoy creating products too!
So what does ‘Death in Paris’ actually mean?
Natasha: The name is an extension of the graphic design studio; we wanted our products to carry on from the existing brand.
Mélusine: I actually came up with the name on a train ride back to Paris when I was a student. I was returning from my hometown of Lyon, and was feeling a bit disillusioned by Paris… There is the image that everyone has of Paris, and then there is the real Paris. So I comically wrote it as my Facebook status, and later ended up using it for the studio name.
Natasha: I love the name. I had a similar experience in Paris and feel it really has a sentiment of coming of age, and a sense of seeing reality for the first time. So it connotes a sense of loss but also a kind of renewal at the same time.
What made you both want to start up your own brand?
Natasha: The idea evolved quite organically as we both have a really similar taste in products. I had been thinking of opening an online shop, so Mélusine and I began casually discussing the possibility of making our own designs. We are both quite entrepreneurial, so it seemed like the natural next step.
You two are now split between London and Bangkok. How does that work?
Mélusine: We tend to talk daily by Skype, so it doesn’t really feel like we are disconnected at all. It does seem to be easier to work when we are in the same city together, but overall the distance doesn’t really affect us.
Natasha: We do stay in constant contact. I guess it seems odd that we manage a business from opposite ends of the world but I feel like it works well for us.
Do you feel that your surroundings have influenced your work at all?
Mélusine: Definitely! Both cities are so different culturally. It’s absolutely fascinating! I love how Bangkok is like a city jungle and how it contrasts with the modernity of London.
Natasha: Yes, Bangkok is very raw and unpolished, but it also has this laid back ease to it. London is so fast-paced comparatively! We get two very different perspectives of life influencing our design ideas.
What else influences your designs?
Mélusine: Interior design and architecture, materials and natural colours, green spaces, contemporary art, empty swimming pools, Swiss graphic design and stationary.
What is at the core of Death in Paris’ accessories range?
Natasha: We are quite minimalist at heart. I think we both have this idea of simplicity as the ultimate form of luxury. So our accessories really reflect that; we focus on really clean design.
Could you take us through your current collection?
Mélusine: The first collection really represents our aesthetic. We kept everything very structured and minimalist, and wanted all the designs to have a sense of effortless simplicity.
Natasha: At the same time, we want the bags to work harmoniously in peoples’ daily lives, so we designed them with a kind of built-in organisational element and tried to make them all multifunctional. For example, the Belvédère style can be used as a backpack or a clutch, while the Vasistas could be a clutch or an organizer in a bigger bag.
And what have you got planned for Spring/Summer 2015?
Mélusine: We are expanding our range of bags to include some new styles. They are a continuation of the first collection: monochrome and versatile.
Have you got any exciting plans or collaborations in the pipeline that you can tell us about?
Natasha: We plan to expand to other products beyond just bags. We can’t say too much, but definitely a range of apparel and other lifestyle pieces.
Words: Samantha Southern