The everyday handbags of choice for Hollywood this spring, as seen on the arms of Sarah Jessica Parker, Naomi Watts, Emma Roberts and Kate Bosworth, aren't by Louis Vuitton, Hermes or Dior. They're by Paris-based Jerome Dreyfuss, who shares his laid-back, bohemian design sensibility and his home with another hot-in-Hollywood designer, Isabel Marant.
Parker has been photographed running errands with Richard, a colorful, perforated patchwork leather bag, Roberts has fallen for the black leather drawstring Alain, and Watts has been spotted out and about with Igor, a black python cross-body style.
Dreyfuss' under-the-radar bags are logo-less and, in keeping with their tomboyish look, have boys' names. They also have clever design details, such as multiple straps to allow carrying by hand or over the shoulder, removable wallets, attached key rings and mini-flashlights.
Their appeal with Hollywood style setters makes sense, since the spring collection was inspired by Los Angeles. There's even a tie-dye denim bag.
"I love the spirit of L.A., the casualness, the way of living, the nature and the architecture," said the affable, nerdy-cute Dreyfuss at his Paris showroom last month, confessing that he considered buying a house, a Lautner, during a recent L.A. trip.
Dreyfuss launched his accessory collection in 2002 with the goal of creating "practical, light, soft bags that feel as good next to your body as a teddy bear." (Prices range from $115 for a small pouch to $2,515 for an oversized hobo in leopard-print pony hair at Jerome-Dreyfuss.com.)
"I'm trying to make life easier," he said, adding that his designs are not serious, they're just fun. "I want to seduce women, and the best way to do that is to make them laugh."
It's a sure bet that's how he seduced Marant. The two met on a TV talk show, when he was seated between her and French model Ines de la Fressange. "My life could have gone very differently," he said with a smile. "But seriously, Ines is too tall for me. But we are great friends now."
Despite what you might think, he and Marant don't talk shop at home.
"Maybe we'll ask each other something like, 'Have you seen a good buckle or strap?' but that's it," he said, adding that the couple and their 10-year-old son, Tal, get away to the countryside every weekend with friends who are not in the fashion industry. (They go to their pristine cabin in Fontainebleu, which is such a remote escape that it doesn't even have electricity.) "You have to have a different life at home, in order to get excited about going to work."
Dreyfuss' world is expanding with the launch of his new shoe line for fall, which brings the hardware from his handbags to the feet. A pair of pumps, named
Pinpin, has removable fringe, while the simple, wear-everywhere Biboots can be worn cuffed as a short boot or rolled up as a tall boot.
He's also recently launched men's accessories under the label Monsieur Dreyfuss that have the same practical design as the women's. There are duffel and bowling bags in soft, vegetable-tanned leather or sail cloth, with attached bottle openers for popping a brew on the go. (Sadly, the men's bags do not have women's names; then again, it would probably be pushing it to expect a man to buy a bag named after a woman.)
As for the favor he's found in Hollywood, Dreyfuss couldn't be more pleased, especially that at least one of his fans is devoted enough to open her own wallet for his designs.
Apparently, Sarah Jessica Parker was in his Saint Germain boutique recently, and when the store manager called to let the designer know, he urged her to pick out a bag as a gift.
"Instead, she insisted on paying," Dreyfuss said. "Now that's class."